First Listen #6: Denzel Curry and Kenny Beat’s “UNLOCKED”

I love Denzel. I think I’ve made that abundantly clear by now in this piece on TA13OO (2018). His flows, the way he rides the beat, the ways he’s able to move fluidly from one lane to another is truly beautiful. He’s one of those people that you really can’t expect anything from because he gives us something new every time. I didn’t get into Denzel until a couple years ago, but I’ve been a huge fan ever since. So naturally, when I saw that a new Kenny Beats-assisted Denzel project was out, I NEEDED to hear it and was very excited. I also must give Kenny some flowers, too. I haven’t heard a lot of songs that he’s produced (cue the boos?), but I do love “FUN!” by Vince Staples and “TOES” by DaBaby, both featuring some Kenny Beats production.

UNLOCKED was nothing short than amazing. Because I was too busy being accosted by the visuals in the short film to really pay that much attention to the music, I had to go back and listen to the project without the visuals. However the visuals were FIRE. I was not surprised in the slightest to see that Denzel has a writing credit for the short film. I’ve seen a couple interviews that he’s done where he’s shown off his drawing skills and told us about his love of anime, which is also very clear from videos like “VENGEANCE,” from TA13BOO, so I know he has a creative drive that moves past music. So I loved being able to see him be able to show off his love for visual art as well. Denzel is such a well-rounded artist and story-teller, so it’s a shame that we don’t get to see that side of him more often – but it is just as equally a blessing when we do. I’m really into short films that accompany projects – a la FKA Twigs’s M3LL155X (2015) and Tierra Whack’s Whack World (2018) – so I love the addition of that here. It connects the songs in a more succinct way than individual music videos do.

As for the sonic part of the project. It was just as amazing. I felt like I was being tossed around the internet in the best way possible. The sonics present Denzel taking bits and pieces of sounds from past projects and putting them together to create something completely new. There’s the franticness and roughness reminiscent of songs like “Ultimate” and “PERCS,” but also the funkiness reminiscent of songs like “WISH.” And he bends them well. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE that Denzel’s voice is so distorted in parts of the project. I was thinking earlier today, while listening to a slowed version of The Weeknd’s “As You Are,” that I missed when the Weeknd shrunk and stretched his voice more. Songs like “Initiation” and “Thursday” wouldn’t be the same without those moments of his voice going in and out of recognition. They add to the overall mood and they give us something different to listen to. So I was super excited to hear a lot of that on UNLOCKED, and even though that distortion is in a lot of the songs, it doesn’t come off as corny or overdone.

this is my favorite video on the internet

I think, for me, songs like “Lay_Up.m4a,” “So.Incredible.pkg,” and “Track 07,” are the standouts for me, though I loved every song on this project. “Lay_Up.m4a” sees Denzel SPITTING heavily, “So.Incredible.pkg” has my FAVORITE line of the entire project (“I don’t write rhymes, nigga, I write checks. Might re-write your life, if the price set), and the instrumental on “Track 07” is so so GOOD. I love how groovy it is. Kenny really didn’t have to do that to us.

I also must give a special shout out to “Track 01” and “‘Cosmic’.m4a.” There’s such a strong MF DOOM inspired-presence that exists on this track, as well as the cover art. A DOOM project is not complete without a sample from an old episode of the Fantastic Four, and “Track 01” gives me those same vibes. The cover art is also very reminiscent of the cover art for Operation: Doomsday (2004). Which I LOVE. “‘Cosmic’.m4a” gives me very Tyler the Creator Flower Boy (2017) and IGOR (2019) vibes with the chords at the end. Which I also love.

( via Genius)

To wrap this whole thing up, Kenny and Denzel did THAT. I love how experimental Denzel is open to being, and I think that is what allows him to continue to be so successful. He’s not scared to take risks, and some brilliant music comes out of those risks. Kenny’s production did such a great job of backing up Denzel’s verses and adding an atmosphere of slight chaos to this project that I think works very well.

Setting my alarm clock to go off for the next time Denzel drops a project.

Overall Album Rating

Featured Image Credit: https://genius.com/album_cover_arts/438108


(listen to UNLOCKED by clicking the image below)

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2 thoughts on “First Listen #6: Denzel Curry and Kenny Beat’s “UNLOCKED”

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