Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats - UNLOCKED

7.8/10

Favorite Track: "So.Incredible.PKG" Least Favorite Track: "Lay_Up.M4A"

Hailing from the underground but managing to battle his way into the mainstream (somewhat), Florida rapper Denzel Curry is simply too damn consistent. The ex-Raider Klan member is more or less a hip hop veteran at this point. However, I would argue that his shining moments didn’t come until the last three years, where he has released a critically acclaimed album on an annual basis. 2018’s TA13OO and 2019’s ZUU are very different stylistically, but they share critical acclaim. Denzel Curry’s new collaborative project with Kenny Beats is a change of pace for him simply based on the fact that it's collaborative, but it finds evolution in his discography from a sonic standpoint as well. This is mostly due to the fact that the project sees Kenny Beats at his production peak. The gritty instrumentals that he cooks up for Curry on UNLOCKED feel closer to electronic or boom bap than they do trap; simply put they are incredible. The attention to detail on UNLOCKED from a production standpoint is breathtaking. Every 808, sound clip, and zainy sound effect pulls you deeper into the glitchy cyber world that the duo paint on this somewhat conceptual EP. UNLOCKED also came packaged with a short animated film, and a fake instagram beef from the duo; both elements make the project's length all the more logical. Nonetheless, it feels finished. UNLOCKED is a great example of why Denzel Curry is strictly and solely a rapper. He has never been particularly concerned with strong hooks, or off the wall structures; he’s a lyricist at heart. The project might have benefited from a few memorable hooks but I feel as if that would have made it less Denzel Curry. If he were like many other rappers in 2020 he would have thrown everything on the table and let people add what they liked to their Spotify playlists, but Denzel Curry isn’t every other rapper. Nothing on here feels out of place. The project draws its strength from the amount of times it makes your jaw drop, not from anything that will get stuck in your head. UNLOCKED feels like Kenny Beat’s and Denzel Curry’s version of a musical flex, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable.

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