Kenny Beats – Louie (Review)

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Kenny Beats production credits have solely stacked to ceiling, landing credits many current household names such as Denzel Curry & JID, but yet he hasn’t released an album until now. His production, especially after his work with Rico Nasty, had taken a slightly more industrial turn. A lot of space to fill within the beats, a hard hitting 808, and quite a range of abrasive synths. So one can wonder about the direction of a full album, even though he’s shown he’s had a broader range on albums such as his work with Vince Staples, taking a turn into the West Coast sound.

What’s delivered on Louie is unexpected, only adding to his credibility as a producer. On this one, he strays from his usual production tactics that brought him his status, and instead makes an album that feels like a tribute to hip hop itself. At a stage like this, he could easily take his brand & craft an album that would immediately sell, with all the people that he’s worked with up until this point & then some. Instead he creates an album full of passionate moments, showing deeply rooted knowledge in the genre.

There’s callbacks to instrumental albums of old, you can hear the occasional Dilla siren, the eclectic range of sampling of RJD2, the dense layering of Flying Lotus. Its all there, all blending into this melting pot of an album. Of course, that’s just the techniques used, as to flip records you need deeper respect for other genres to identify what samples to flip. The records flipped are possibly records from his personal life as well, which add to the passion of each track.

Kenny Beats – Eternal

The album is in tribute to his father, who not only sacrificed plenty to help Kenny’s career, but also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. With this in mind, the album takes a new shape. It feels like what needs to be constructed is done with urgency, but care. Urgency to put everything together, but enough care to sound beautifully mixed & layered.

Not a moment is wasted on the album, not a single instrumental overstays its welcome. Every instrumental builds with a true payoff, with enough progression in each track to satisfy the listener. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of the features, they play into the feeling of each instrumental. No artist is here to steal the spotlight, only highlight Kenny’s abilities to make everything work together.

Not all his collaborative albums may land or sit right with audiences, but what’s done here is done flawlessly. He forgoes any tropes his sound has fallen into & makes a project that is just incredibly passionate at every turn. Who knows if it’ll ever end up in the upper echelon of hip hop instrumental albums, but that’s clearly not the point either. Its a rarity to see such intense emotion come through on an instrumental album, and that alone makes this a special listen.

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