Denzel Curry/Kenny Beats - Unlocked 1.5 Music Album Reviews

Denzel Curry/Kenny Beats - Unlocked 1.5 Music Album Reviews
The duo’s refurbished EP gets the typical sequel treatment, with new characters and a glossy finish that makes you miss the gritty original.

The real Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats cannot come to the phone right now. According to the lore of their last album Unlocked, they are trapped deep in cyberspace while evil doppelgangers roam the world in their stead. It was Bad Denzel and Bad Kenny who “leaked” Unlocked last year. Now, the nefarious rapper and producer duo have roped in unsuspecting collaborators to remix a handful of songs from the record. Unlocked 1.5 presents a selection of seven tracks, reworked by artists like Robert Glasper, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and the Alchemist. Well wrought as they are, some of these additions feel a bit slapped-on. Unlocked is trim and scrappy, but its 1.5 update gets the typical sequel treatment: all-new characters, unnecessary plotlines, and a glossy finish that makes you miss the gritty original.

That 1.5 has too many ideas isn’t an indictment of each one, more so a question of whether or not they all make sense on the same EP. When Denzel and Kenny cut Unlocked, they recorded it over a frenzied three-day period, and the immediacy of that work is captured in the original version—it’s a lean-and-mean little project, all muscle, no fat. The addition of multiple skilled rappers and producers, each introducing their own style, tends to drown out the scruffy charm rather than enhance it. Pianist and producer Robert Glasper outfits “So.Incredible.pkg” with a drifting Tropicália vocal melody and key pulses that recall his work with Flying Lotus and Thundercat. The sound sits distinctly in the neo-jazz world Glasper is a part of (in the goofy trailer for 1.5, Glasper offers to “add a few things” after hearing the album. Kenny responds, “He’s gonna put a saxophone”).

Glasper and Georgia Anne Muldrow’s contributions—the latter on “Track07”—present beautified versions of Denzel and Kenny’s music. The components they impart are gorgeous, particularly Muldrow’s powerful, non-lexical singing, but they don’t feel of a piece with the album as a whole. Verses from British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks—whose voice is particularly light and sweet—feel especially out of place. On its own, “Track07” is a great song, but I wonder if it makes sense within the context of the EP as a whole. On the other hand, Smino’s drowsy verse on “So.Incredible.pkg” is a perfect foil to Denzel’s rasp. (Hearing Smino coyly squeak, “Huh, me? Little old me?” is a delight.)

At worst, some of these remixes defang Denzel a bit—his robust, jagged flow is often cleaned up and glazed over with slick production. Charlie Heat’s rendition of “Take It Back” and Sango’s “Pyro” remix suffer most from this issue. Their add-ons are unmemorable. Though both Glasper and Muldrow’s reworks were distracting, they were distractingly good—Heat and Sango’s offerings aren’t bad, but they don’t enhance the source material. Heat tacks on a soul sample, percussion, and a handful of bells and whistles. Sango smooths out any rough edges in the original. Both crowd the space Denzel once had to really stretch out and flail.

The most effective additions to 1.5 are supplied by veteran producer the Alchemist and Griselda MC Benny the Butcher. Benny’s time on “DIET_1.5” yields the best guest verse on the record, his springy cadence bouncing off Kenny’s aluminum beat like a hard rubber ball. On “‘Cosmic’.m4a,” the Alchemist beefs up the track with warped, bulbous synths and piano measures that sound lifted from a slasher score. Joey Bada$$ dishes out fierce bars on par with Denzel’s vigor, and the song ultimately feels elevated, each new element enhancing Denzel’s presence instead of overpowering it—an upgrade in the truest sense of the word.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Denzel Curry/Kenny Beats - Unlocked 1.5 Music Album Reviews Denzel Curry/Kenny Beats - Unlocked 1.5 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on March 08, 2021 Rating: 5


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