‘UNLOCKED’ is the creative lovechild of Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats

Modern hip-hop icons team up and record album in 24 hours

unlocked-denzel-curry

Artists: Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats

Released: Feb. 7, 2020

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Label: Loma Vista Recordings

Rating: 9/10

It finally happened.

Hip-hop star Denzel Curry had the Kenny Beats treatment on his latest album, “UNLOCKED.” Like most of Curry’s recent ventures, “UNLOCKED” came out of nowhere. Teasing the project with some staged beef on Twitter, Curry and Beats have released something special with the 18-minute playground of an album.

Supposedly recorded in 24 hours, “UNLOCKED” is a highlight in both artist’s discographies. 

The album opens with “Track 01,” which sets the cartoonish and playful tone of the rest of the project. With some clear inspirations from MF DOOM, samples of announcers swirl around the establishing beat. The song quickly cuts and Curry delivers the scratchy introduction that simultaneously prepares the listener for what’s to come and leaves them needing more. 

As the album continues, Beats and Curry throw a three-pointer on the appropriately named highlight “Lay_Up.m4a.” Curry brings the heat in a head-bopping, two-verse hype-train with a nasty (in a good way) chorus in between. Beats’ production on the cut ranges from slowed-down boom bap on the verses to an almost haunted-house vibe on the chorus.

The pair released the album alongside a 24-minute visualizer featuring stunning animation from a variety of animators. Curry and Beats put on a show as the two travel through worlds to recover their music from the depths of the internet. It pairs with the sonic palette of the album immaculately.

As the album progresses, it continues to deliver some heavy hitters. Tribal-sounding percussions back the track “DIET_” and lay the tone in a way that’s both relaxing and exciting all at once. Curry calmly picks up the pace throughout his first verse, before calling out Logic for his lazy lyricism on his recent projects. 

 “DIET_” ends abruptly and throws the listener into highlight “So.Incredible.pkg.”  Beats and Curry outdo themselves on the track, almost traveling back in time to the birth of hip-hop. The Notorious B.I.G. would be proud, as clear inspiration from him and Tupac can be heard in this track.

 Beats shows off his prowess in “Track07” as he artfully lays drum over cosmic beats with echoes of Curry’s rapping from the previous song interwoven with more MF DOOM-esque old movie samples. Beats paves a clear path into the Jazz/R&B genre as this song is as smooth as syrup on pancakes. The track, unofficially labeled the interlude of the album, should be a must-add to chillout playlists.

 The album comes to a close with “‘Cosmic’.m4a” which is a perfect representation of the album as a whole. Curry delivers a classic verse over Beats’ distinctive production, which is all it takes to make an incredible track. 

 Leading listeners through shades of nostalgia they didn’t know existed, “UNLOCKED” is a showcase of talent for Curry and Beats. The entire album is a must-have in every hip-hop fan’s weekly rotation and should not be missed.

The arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.