Published Feb 07, 2020After fabricating an internet feud and releasing a short film, Denzel Curry is back with UNLOCKED, a collaborative project partnered with the prolific Kenny Beats. Punctuated by the clicks and whirrs of a tape deck, and packaged with samples from an old-timey worker's safety video, UNLOCKED sees Curry and Beats take a deep dive into hip-hop fundamentals through a concise, gritty and hard-hitting album.
Kenny Beats' production is simply great on this record. Low-end heavy, detuned melodies create a sinister backdrop — stripped back just enough to make room for the "Ricky" rapper's eviscerating vocals. Unique, creaky percussion and clever use of effects only add to the peculiar, dark atmosphere present throughout the project. All of the instrumentals perfectly complement Curry's stark, striking performance.
Curry's vocals are front and centre on the mix; he uses his unmistakable voice and commanding verses to attack the listener with menacing flows. At times, Curry's aggressive inflection is evocative of DMX, in some moments, his vibrato sounds like he's channelling the spirit of ODB — Curry's passion for the art form shines through his delivery. Lyrically, Curry continues to paint vivid depictions of trauma and the come up with interesting pop culture references, from battle rap to A Bug's Life.
The Denzel Curry x Kenny Beats team up is a master-class of hip hop — few artists in today's landscape have the talent and longevity to consistently deliver good music. Thankfully, Denzel Curry is one of those few. (Loma Vista)