One of the most acclaimed rappers of his generation, a reputation established by his work over the last 18 months, Denzel Curry begins the ‘20s with a brand new full-length titled Unlocked, produced by Kenny Beats and laid down in a manically intense three-day recording period following Curry’s appearance on the producer’s YouTube show ‘The Cave’.
Vinyl LP £18.99 LVR844
LP on Loma Vista.
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CD £10.49 LVR944
CD on Loma Vista.
Denzel Curry has cemented himself as one of my all-time favourite MCs on ‘Unlocked’. He’s slowly been rising to that status since the excellent ‘Imperial’ back in 2016, a release which paired rapid lyricism and clever wordplay with heavy Southern hip hop and trap rap beats. Then came ‘TA13OO’, an incredibly meticulous and thematically intriguing concept album which rewrote the trap rule book and elevated the subgenre to new levels. He secured his spot with the surprise release ‘ZUU’, a project loaded in party-ready jams and delightful hometown homages despite being completely ad-libbed. ‘Unlocked’ sees him pairing up with coveted producer Kenny Beats to create an energetic, mixtape style record which shows his ability to experiment with new styles and succeed expertly in doing so.
The sound of ‘Unlocked’ is comparable to 90s and early 2000s hip hop, blending the regionally linked but stylistically opposing sounds of MF DOOM, Wu-Tang, and Company Flow together. The beats and production from Kenny Beats is varied, imaginative and often flavoured with abstract psychedelia and a comic book narrative. ‘DIET_’ for instance, has a tumbling off-kilter quality, whilst ‘So.Incredible.pkg’ flaunts a lucid funk atmosphere and an ear-grabbing flexatone sample. It’s easy to see why Beats is one of the most in demand producers right now, he’s even mooted to be working with Idles on their upcoming third record.
Whilst ‘Unlocked’ could benefit with more meat on its bones, its incredible to hear such chemistry between the pair who are clearly having a fun time together. Curry’s flow goes so hard and his wordplay is so sharp that it’s a joy to hear his voice throughout the mini-album. Denzel has displayed his ability to be both a scrupulous artist and an entertainer who can create with immediacy. This project falls into the latter camp, and its completely worth your time if you’re a hip hop fan.
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