1000 Albums Project


UNLOCKED, by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats
Suggested by Krystian Muzstafa

Here at Project HQ, aka Chez Craig and Sarah, we have two new kittens.

They are four months old, having came to live with us at the age of eight weeks. In the time they have been here, they have grown in size exponentially. From inauspicious (yet ridiculously cute) beginnings, they are now more akin to panthers, or furry giraffes, that to housecats.

As typical kittens, they lead a binary life, going from full-on ramming speed to an all-devouring sleep in the blink of an eye. They have the attention span of a flitting gnat, and the unconditional love that animals are famed for.

Their names are Meeple and Zuu, the first named for a boardgame component and the second named for a rising comedian / chef / grime MC.

When researching Denzel Curry, I learnt that his previous album to UNLOCKED was titled Zuu, which is the apparent nickname for his home town. As a proud Cat Dad, I immediately warmed to this rapper, and had high hopes for my listen.

UNLOCKED is a seventeen-minute eight-track extended EP that blends Denzel’s incendiary rapping in collaboration with the producer Kenny Beats. From its opening track, it’s clear that Curry has brought his A-Game, with raw talent shining through in every beat and metre. The rapping is clear, concise, stylistically wide and lyrically adventurous, with an honest and powerful delivery. It oozes confidence and experience, as if Denzel is almost mocking other practitioners of the genre by virtue of being so damn tight.

Kenny Beats brings some sauce to the party, with use of vocal distortions and pause-cut drumbeats. It’s decent enough, but he’s overshadowed by the rapper that’s front and centre stealing the whole show. Production is often an overlooked art, as the best practitioners appear seamless, their talents going into creating a vehicle for the more visible factors. Kenny Beats seems a bit more sesperate, weighted against a superior talent and overcompensating a little because ot it.

So, all’s rosy in my garden, I hear you cry.

Not exactly.

The problem with UNLOCKED is that it’s too flighty. Eight tracks, seventeen minutes, each song packed with a density of style, but no one track ready to commit itself to more than a passing glimpse of a wider whole. It’s TikTok rap, a tasting menu, a dozen plates of tapas than can’t but fail to fill you up. UNLOCKED is full of ideas, but they’re whisked out from under you before they can settle. Music for an ADHD audience, or for a kitten that’s pouncing on a noy mouse one second and fast asleep the next.

Consequently, I can only stretch to 6/10 for UNLOCKED, despite a fine standout track in DIET_ and the talents of a rapper who genuinely blew me away. I’ll check out Zuu in the future, because, well, that’s my kitten, and hopefully a full-length release will give the music time to breathe.

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