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Kenny Beats shines on his debut solo outing Louie

"Louie"

Release date: 31 August 2022
8/10
Kenny Beats - Louie cover
16 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Sebastien Grech
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​​Kenny Beats’ internet persona has long captured the attention of producers.

Up and coming beat-makers vie to lock horns on the much-loved “beat battles” on twitch. On his Cave youtube project, the Connecticut-born artist magicks up tailored instrumentals for superstars such as Denzel Curry and Slowthai. We’ve grown used to enjoying him as a collaborator, rather than the main attraction. Indeed, Kenny once claimed he preferred to work with others as he himself “didn’t have anything to say.”

That’s all changed now. It has taken a highly personal moment, his father ‘s pancreatic cancer diagnosis, for Kenneth to embark on his very own solo project. The result is Louie, a 17-track marvel.

The album shines with the creative flair we’ve come to expect. But we also get a broader soundscape, unpredictable beats and a dizzying sense of Kenny widening his scope to take in richer samples and instrumentals.

Highlights are frequent. The warmth and groove on “That Third Thing” recall the best of J Dilla, with hints of early boom-bap. “So They Say” is a bossa-nova inspired trap cut, showing off the dance chops Kenny has mastered over years. “Hooper” sparkles with finely crafted horns, layering brilliantly on top of shimmering synthesisers. The infectiously funky, 90-second “Drop 10” strikes a playful opener, then transitions seamlessly through lush instrumentals. Inventive sample choices are reminiscent of DJ Shadow’s landmark Endtroducing… record.

The musical elements coalesce like pieces of a sonic puzzle, interacting seamlessly with dynamic soul samples and lively percussion. The album’s final track, “Hot Hand”, ushers in an epic, ominous climax accompanied by droning shrieks. Kenny’s ability to push the boundaries while delivering musical dynamism of the highest quality makes for a heady combination.

There are poignant moments too. Muffled vocal samples from father-son conversations imbue this album with deeper meaning, and hint at the truly great artist Kenny could become. After years of watching him put others on the pedestal, it feels good to see him take centre stage at last. Only one question remains. Is this a one-off gem or the start of an exhilarating new journey?

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