Kenny Beats only recently jumped to the forefront of Hip-Hop as a formidable beat-maker, but he’s making his time in the limelight one for the books. Releasing a string of joint albums with big artists has only helped validate his position at the top of the rap production game. After wrapping up projects with Rico Nasty and 03 Greedo, Kenny has set his sights on South Florida rapper Denzel Curry (fresh off his latest album, ZUU) for their new project, UNLOCKED.
The entire album is presented as if it was a compilation of leaks straight from Kenny’s computer, thus the odd title names. The first track, aptly named “Track 01,” sets the tone for the project with an instrumental opening reminiscent of MF DOOM’s work. An eerie sample of an informational video about mental health helps create a menacing atmosphere for the listener. Later on in the project, we receive another interlude, “Track 07,” that follows a similar formula with Kenny’s beats taking the front stage supported by Denzel’s vocals.
The first traditional rap song we hear is, “Take It Back,” which reintroduces a flow that will sound familiar to anyone who has listened to his earlier mixtape, Nostalgic 64. Kenny Beats does more than his part with classic boom bap production and interpolated samples. Both of these are recurring themes that can be noticed throughout the project.
All of the songs on this project have something to offer and beg to be listened to based on Denzel’s delivery alone. However, the tracks that stand out the most are “Take It Back,” “Diet,” and “Cosmic,” which are some of Curry’s most impressive tracks in his discography. Throughout the tape we are taken on a journey by a lyrical, less melodic (with the exception of “Lay Up”), and more direct Denzel that hasn’t been heard in years.
“Cosmic,” the final song on the project is the perfect pinnacle of the 90s production mixed with impeccable rhymes about drug dealing and fame. It wraps a tightly-bound bow on the project and serves as a proper climax, especially on the back of the interlude, “Track 07.”
UNLOCKED is a fantastic project, one that is like a well written sentence: short and sweet. At only 18 minutes the album doesn’t waste any time because it simply cannot afford to. The stylized names of the tracks fashioned as leaks also goes to reinforce the raw feeling the project evokes. It’s an auditory diamond in the rough.
Album Rating: 9/10
Review By: Jahi McDonald