Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats

Unlocked

PH Recordings

Vinyl/CD/DL/Stream

Out now

Short and direct, the new album Unlocked has emerged from a collaboration between Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats. The result is a mini Hip Hop gem. Dave Beer takes a listen for Louder Than War.

17 minutes and 8 tracks. That’s all it takes. It seems like more. There’s a lot crammed into each of the nimble cuts contained in Unlocked, the product of a collaboration between rapper Denzel Curry and producer Kenny Beats. The packed sounds make each track feel more substantial than the minute or two they each last.

Despite its length, it feels much closer to a full album than a long EP. There is no doubt that they could have slowed the pace and produced a much longer piece of work, if they had wanted. But the rapid movements give it a sharper edge. It just fizzes along. No pauses, no hesitations. No waste.

The song titles all look like quickly dashed-off digital files – called things like Track 01, Track 07 and Take_it_Back_v2 – but the tracks themselves are much more closely worked through than that suggests. At the same time, there remains a sense of spontaneity here. It’s like Curry and Beats hit onto a stream of creativity and went with it. That’s how it feels – like they are riding along on a wave. The tracks are like streams of consciousness. Maybe the title, Unlocked, is a reflection of the creative unleashing. The confidence of not overworking an idea, but letting them go and moving on to the next.

These may be short and direct bits of debris from modern life, but they still flow together. They just move in burst of energy. The tracks blend together into a something like a seamless piece of music that runs across the album. The shifts happen within the tracks as well as across, and the titles just act as a little markers within the album rather than breaking points.

It’s gripping. The length and quality of the album mean that it calls for repeated listens. Like those songs that always feel too short, you want to put it back on straight away and listen again.

There is a Hip Hop heritage feel to the use of samples and beats. So the backdrop has a definite retro flavour. Classy and classic, but it still feels like it is breaking into new territory. There’s still a freshness, creative sparks are everywhere.

Foreboding and atmospheric, the terse delivery makes it feel like a moving target. Skipping on a hot floor. A spectre of sound, here and then gone. Writing about it is like trying to photograph something that doesn’t stay still long enough to quite get into focus. Just as I start to hear it, the music is moving on. Maybe that is what Unlocked is about. It’s all about restlessness – it’s music that doesn’t pause.

More information about Denzel Curry can be found on his official website.

Words by Dave Beer.

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