Album Review | Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – UNLOCKED

This project was released on February 7th along with an accompanying short film. It’s the length of an extended play, but pretty much every person that I’ve seen talking about it has referred to it as an album. Personally, I’m not really expecting this album to be that good, but I’ve never really been that much of a Denzel Curry fan in the first place, even though I really love TA1300. It’s one of my favorite albums of 2018, but that and Imperial are the only two projects from him that I actually like. Last year he dropped what I consider to be his worst project ever, ZUU, so I don’t have much faith that he’ll blow me away again at any point in the future. I don’t think this album will be trash though because every project he’s put out so far has had at least a few songs that I fuck with. Kenny Beats is one of the most popular producers in the industry right now, and I think his beats are typically pretty dope, so I’m sure the production will at least be good. I have to give kudos to whoever designed that stunning cover art by the way. That shit is awesome. Anyway, I’m gonna watch the video that was released alongside this album, and then just listen to the album on its own before I write my review.

1. Track 01

Okay, first of all, I just wanna say that the short film for this project is awesome. The animation is really fucking impressive; it looks like it was made specifically for Adult Swim, so that was really cool. The story itself wasn’t that interesting, but the way it was told was dope. This track in particular is just an instrumental intro, but it’s really awesome. The production from Kenny Beats is really fantastic here. He did a great job. This shit had me genuinely intrigued, and much more excited to listen to the rest of the project than I initially was.

2. Take_it_Back_v2

I really fuck with this song. Kenny’s production is great, and Denzel did a really good job over it in my opinion. The lyrics aren’t really that impressive at all, but I’ve never really come to him for great writing. It’s typically his flow and delivery that keeps me engaged, and I was just really underwhelmed by that on his 2019 album, but he sounds great here in my opinion. That reference to Drake’s Comeback Season mixtape was kinda cool, but the lyrics kinda just go in one ear and out the other for the most part. The hook isn’t really anything special to me, but it’s definitely not bad. The beat switch for the second verse really pushed the song to the next level for me. I think the writing at this point kinda goes to complete shit, but the screwed vocals make it sound really fucking cool.
I’m a period, everything gettin’ serious
The beat or the lyricist was the eeriest
I look at the sky to answer the curious
The god and the devil, they both imperious
I really gotta give credit to Kenny Beats because if Denzel spit this over a wack beat I’d probably think this song was trash. I really love this shit though. The production is phenomenal, and Denzel sounds really good over it. I think the song’s dope as hell.

3. Lay_Up.m4a

I really love the dark production on this track. The first verse from Denzel was kinda strange to me because it seemed to have this theme of blackness, but it didn’t really go anywhere or seem to have a purpose.
Embezzling millions
Have the crackers be shocked by my brilliance
By my appearance, it’s apparent that I am a nigger
If I look like I’m Antwone Fisher, that’s gon’ make ’em sicker
The beginning of the verse also had a line about growing out an afro for black power. I saw a few people mention that Denzel completely freestyled this album, which I guess kinda explains why the verses seem to be nothing but random non-sequiturs. If you kinda block out the content of what he’s saying and just focus on his delivery and flow it becomes far more enjoyable. Or maybe he’s actually a lyrical genius and everything’s going over our heads. That doesn’t seem to be the case though lol. Anyway, I actually really like the hook. His flow and delivery sound great. The second verse is kinda trash, but overall I like the song. It’s really dope sonically, so I can tolerate the incredibly mediocre lyricism. I think it’s pretty good as a whole.

4. Pyro (leak 2019)

I really love the production on this song, and I think Denzel spits one of his better verses on the album here. I like the song a lot, but I feel like they could’ve done a lot more with it. It’s only 81 seconds long, so it consequently ends up sounding like more of a snippet than a full song. The writing here is definitely a step up from the preceding track, but I still don’t think it’s that impressive. A lot of people were acting like the opening line was the most amazing thing they’ve ever heard, and I think it’s kind of a cool line, but nothing more than that. I can’t imagine why anyone would have a more intense reaction than just sharply exhaling from their nose. If you hear this line and then lose your shit you’re probably not sober.
My bitch bad like battle rappers that make albums
The song is good though. I feel like I sounded really critical here, but the song isn’t really bad to me at all. Again, it probably would’ve been far more enjoyable to me if it was more than just one verse over a great beat, but it’s still entertaining overall. I fuck with it.

5. DIET_

Kenny’s production here is fucking awesome. As a matter of fact, his production throughout the entire project is stellar. I think these are some of the best beats I’ve ever heard from him. Anyway, the lyricism is still kinda trash to be honest, but the way Denzel’s delivery gets super aggressive honestly sounds pretty awesome.
Pamela Anderson, Pam Grier
The man’s here, there’s no fear
Came through with no tears
I don’t cry, matter fact, I don’t lie like a bedside
To tell the truth, then I tell you what it is or what it ain’t
Please roll me up another dank
I really like the hook, and the second verse was better in my opinion. Even though what he’s saying isn’t that interesting on paper, the superb delivery goes a long way. I think it’s one of the better songs on the album honestly. It’s dope to me.

6. So.Incredible.pkg

This is the only song on the project that I don’t really care for overall. It’s not bad though. There are aspects of it that I like. Once again, I think Kenny’s production is really dope here. Denzel’s flow and delivery are pretty cool too. It unfortunately just wasn’t enough to make this song worth coming back to for me. The first verse is really just… It’s not good.
I chef mad flavors
Bitches suck the energy, it’s like a Lifesaver
Shave it off the top, it’s sort of like a lightsaber
Cheese grater, he’s greater
When they mention I, definition of the fly
And that’s why
This kinda reminds me of Logic‘s recent work because the actual lyrics are pretty much worthless. There’s no substance there. However, I will say that Denzel has a much more intriguing delivery than Logic ever had. I also don’t think Logic has rapped over any beats as good as this in a long time. Anyway, the hook on this song did pretty much nothing for me. Same goes for the entire second verse. Again, it’s not a bad song, but this is easily my least favorite track. I think it’s pretty mediocre.

7. Track07

This is pretty much just an instrumental interlude from Kenny. It almost feels pointless, but the beat is good enough for me to at least get some enjoyment out of it. It’s a lot smoother than any of the other beats, and the way the sampled vocals from the previous track are chopped up and incorporated is really cool. This was just a really nice showcase of how talented Kenny is. It’s a cool interlude. I fuck with it.

8. ‘Cosmic’.m4a

This is definitely one of the better songs in my opinion. Again, the lyrics aren’t really that interesting at all. However, this song has some of the best production, along with one of Denzel’s best vocal performances. I feel like I’ve been saying the same thing for every song on this album. That’s just how it is though. If you don’t really pay attention to what’s actually being said, this sounds really great. This would be far more enjoyable if the lyrics were actually good though.
Barricade, hit the cage, we engage
That will leave a gauge-sized hole
Nigga play your role, put it in your back pocket
Before they drop sheets, I’ma drop knowledge
I guess the thing with Logic is that eventually instead of just having uninteresting lyrics, his writing became genuinely terrible. Denzel’s lyricism hasn’t deteriorated to that extent yet. Hopefully it never does. Anyway, I really like this song. It obviously would’ve been better if there was more time and effort put into the actual writing, but I’m satisfied with the final product. It’s a dope song.

This is a good album. Assuming you actually read the body of this review and didn’t just skip down to my final thoughts, you probably know what I’m gonna say. The most glaring issue is the writing. These lyrics are not good. As I said before, almost every line basically just goes in one ear and out the other. However, what saves this album is Denzel’s infectious energy along with Kenny Beats’ best production to date. Given the theme of this album along with the accompanying short film, I kinda feel like this would’ve made more sense for someone like JPEGMAFIA, but Peggy & Denzel are pretty different artists. An album from Peggy entirely produced by Kenny Beats would obviously be very different from this. I don’t know if Denzel is ever gonna actually sit down and put more effort into his writing, but I hope he does. Energetic flows and deliveries can only take you so far in my opinion. I doubt he’ll ever make something truly terrible, but I’m also starting to doubt that he’ll ever make anything nearly as captivating as TA13OO for me. This shit is still good though. It’s a fun album. If I just wanna hear some aggressive shit that I don’t really have to think about, I’ll put this on. It’s dope.

Favorite Song: Take_it_Back_v2
Least Favorite Song: So.Incredible.pkg