First Impressions: Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED

If you’re unfamiliar with Denzel Curry or don’t know much about him, I wrote a bit of an introduction to him in this post, so check that out if you want to get caught up!

On 7th February 2020 Denzel Curry and producer Kenny Beats released their collaborative album ‘UNLOCKED’. This was no normal album, being recorded in just 24 hours and being released alongside an animated short film that saw the duo embark on a journey to find their missing songs. The album was a surprise release, with the only promotion being a fake beef between Denzel and Kenny leading up to the release.

Below I’m going to review the album in two parts, first will be my track by track observations, and following that will be my views on the album as a whole. I’ll include links to stream both the album and short film at the bottom, as well as a couple of discussion questions. Take note that this writeup won’t take into account the accompanying short film (which I think adds massively to the project overall), as I just want to talk about the music aspect. Enjoy!

Track By Track Review

1. Track 01 – Interesting instrumental/sampled intro to set the vibe to the project. Similar to something Wu-Tang or MF DOOM would do. Nothing too special

2. Take_it_Back_v2 – Some great vocal inflections from Denzel, good rhymes and hard hitting bars too. Beat is pretty basic for the first part. Great little beat switch though, second half is much more exciting and the screwed Denzel vocals sound great over it. Real good song

3. Lay_Up.m4a – Some more real hard hitting bars, flows are a bit basic at times but change up enough to keep things exciting. Beat had this real eerie villainous feel to it. Hook is decent. Song is okay, on the fence

4. Pyro (leak 2019) – Really solid rhyme scheme and metaphors from Denzel, some funny bars and great flows throughout too. Some great cultural references. Beat is quite eerie again, gives me 007 Goldeneye vibes. Good track

5. DIET_ – Denzels slow flow in the beginning is okay, but lacks his usual exciting delivery. Quickly builds up to a much more energetic and enjoyable range of flows, love the progression. Beat is great, has this real heavy bass that sounds like something out of Crash Bandicoot. Real good track

6. So.Incredible.pkg – This beat is much more upbeat, has this jazzy New York feel to it. More really impressive rhymes and bars from Denzel, rides the mellow beat with ease, great delivery too. Some great quotables here and there. Interesting change of pace in the second half. Beat is still real mellow, and the contrast with Denzels high energy, hungry delivery is fantastic. Real catchy hook. Some nice little screwed vocal sections. Great song

7. Track07 – Interesting track, majority instrumental. Great production with a similar vibe to the rest of the album. Only a couple short sections of rapping which are nice touches. Nothing too special, just an interlude really

8. ‘Cosmic’.m4a – Another fairly mellow beat with Denzel going HAM with super hard hitting bars and hungry delivery. More impressive rhymes and amazing vocal inflections on display from Denzel. Beat has this amazing little section with this funky bass melody. Song drags on a bit, but is okay overall

Album Review

Overall I felt UNLOCKED was an extremely fun little project to listen to, and despite being made so quickly it was still an excellent showcase of the talent of both Denzel as a rapper and Kenny as a producer. I personally think that in terms of bars, flows and delivery this project is just as strong as Zuu or Ta13oo, with Denzel delivering copious amounts of impressive rhymes and exciting flows. Having one producer handling the productions throughout the project also gave it the cohesion of an album which had been in the works for months, with the whole thing having this kind of villainous/superhero feel.

I’m just going to quickly touch on the negatives since I feel like there weren’t many at all, largely due to the extremely short run time. I felt like one facet of the project that lacked in comparison to other Denzel projects was the quality of hooks, with some songs having no hook at all, and some having average hooks, leaving only a couple of memorable ones. Aside from that my only gripes are real minor, such as the tracks being a pain to write or say, and the project lacking features, both of which I feel are forgivable due to the nature of the project. On the plus side almost all of the proper songs (so not including Track 01 and Track07) were very enjoyable. I loved the way Denzel used his voice on songs such as ‘Take_it_Back_v2’ & “Cosmic’.m4a’. I enjoyed the progression in Denzel’s flow and delivery on ‘DIET_’ and found the hook on ‘So.Incredible.pkg’ to be super catchy. And I really enjoyed the use of screwed and pitched up vocals throughout the album, most notably on ‘Take_it_Back_v2’ & ‘So.Incredible.pkg’. Finally the production itself was consistently enjoyable, with each instrumental being immaculately produced and keeping this constant vibe throughout the project.

So all in all this was a great little listen, it’s easy to get through, fun, and a great show of skill from two amazing artists. I don’t think this is on the same level as Denzels best projects, but it also didn’t have the same amount of time or effort put in. If you’re a Denzel Curry fan your sure to enjoy a majority of this project, with Denzel bringing his usual high energy flows and barrage of rhymes over some amazing production from Kenny Beats

Final Notes

You can stream UNLOCKED in full on Spotify here, or on Apple Music here!

UNLOCKED animated short film

My Favourite Songs were ‘Take_it_Back_v2’, ‘Pyro (leak 2019)’, ‘Diet_’, & ‘So.Incredible.pkg’.

What were your favourite songs from UNLOCKED?

What other rapper would you like to see Kenny Beats collab with for an album?

And what other producer would you like to see work with Denzel for a full album?

Thanks For Reading!

– Shan –

4 thoughts on “First Impressions: Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED

    1. Definitely agree man!
      Been saying the same thing since like 2013 😂
      I feel like these last couple of years he has finally started getting the recognition and praise he deserves.
      Do you have a favourite Denzel project?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Love it!

        I think Malcolm X was interesting, and Glory was a great film too. Training Day, of course, was solid as well but I personally find it a tad overrated (still good though). How about you!?

        Like

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