When performing, freshman Dane Jennings refers to himself as Seize Fire, a name that fits the pyrocentric theme of his first EP Prometheus. Approaching his second year of rapping, Jennings recorded the five-song album at Blue Sky Studios in Delmar, N.Y. near his hometown of Schenectady after deciding to “take it to the next level.”
“I’ve sold every CD that I’ve printed so far,” Jennings said. Every CD – that is, a total of three. But Jennings plans to produce a full-length album this summer.
What began as a continuation of his musical talents – he plays both piano and percussion instruments – spitting rhymes is now an almost full-time passion for Jennings. His songs vary from electronic piano, like the beats in “A Minor Subplot” to the cerebral rap found in songs like “Tempershock.”
Some songs Seize Fire puts together alone, but others are a collaboration between him and junior Josh Bauscher, or Dark Star. Jennings said that the consistency of Bauscher’s style balances his “more erratic” style, boasting about the over-300 hits received on the Seize Fire vs. Dark Star SoundCloud song “Lionheart” on which they spit, “What matters is what you do when you’re done saying what you’re saying. Easy to see the world, so it’s hard to go out and change it. I’m stuck in a state of restless complacence.”
Jennings writes based on “powerful experiences, positive or negative,” adding that “Everyone has things that make them angry and I think that a healthy way of dealing with that is writing music.” Like most performers, he admits that “in retrospect my early stuff wasn’t that good.”
“I’m always writing. I'm always practicing piano and practicing raps, writing new raps. I perform at Muddy Waters maybe every other week, just to keep it up and get myself out there,” he said.
Because of his musical upbringing, Jennings is used to performing: He formed the alt-rock band Mental Trigger that lasted through his senior year of high school, and has had his share of piano recitals through his adolescent years. At Geneseo, he plays piano for the jazz ensemble.
One of his most stirring musical experiences was Lollapalooza 2011; it was so moving that he still sports a tattered wristband to signify the memory of camping all night out to see Eminem where he had the “best seats in the house.”
“The energy that he put into the performance – he does very few a year – and I was just such a part of this, it was inspiring and powerful,” Jennings said.
Everyone knows Eminem, but Jennings admits that he doesn’t listen to much mainstream rap – “Pitbull rapping doesn’t do anything for me” – and that finding worthy rap artists takes a bit of digging. Jennings is one of a few students at the college who had heard of Spring Concert opener Aesop Rock; in fact, he’s a big fan.
“He has some of the best rhythm of any rapper alive,” Jennings said, adding that one of his favorite Aesop Rock lyrics appears in the song “Zero Dark Thirty”: “Kick the same bucket like Chinatown turtles.”
It’s lines like these that Jennings aims to mimic, as his writing has varied from a focus on wordplay to purely flow. He said that he “can’t see my life without playing music, without performing and writing, to some degree.”
Ideally, Jennings said, he would “make it.” But he understands the naiveté of this ambition: “It’s just so hard to make money; even incredible musicians can’t make money in the music industry. But I’m hopeful.”