Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats
PH / Loma Vista · March 5, 2021
While UNLOCKED 1.5, a remix album of tracks from Denzel Curry and Kenny Beat’s critically acclaimed 2020 record UNLOCKED, doesn’t pose anything groundbreaking overall, there are some solid remixes on the tracklist that make it a worthy listen for hardcore fans of either of the two artists. It doesn’t surpass the original by any means, but it at the very least provides a fresh new take on some of the songs presented on UNLOCKED.
Some of the remixes presented on UNLOCKED 1.5 genuinely add to the original tracks or reinvent them in an original and thought provoking way. The first track on the album, “So.Incredible.pkg [Robert Glasper Version Feat. Smino],” incorporates a cool, soul-influenced sample over Denzel Curry’s original verse for the track on “So.Incredible.pkg.” The backing vocals work well over Denzel’s verse, and as a whole it blends well with the instrumental. Smino also chimes in with a new verse on this track, and he incorporates interesting vocal inflections and wordplay to enhance his delivery. This is probably the best track on the album, and the only one that could probably be considered superior to its counterpart on UNLOCKED.
Another highlight on the album is “Pyro [Sango Leak Feat. Kenny Manson],” which incorporates a more spacy instrumental with a hard-hitting bass and 808s which add to the overall progression of the track. Kenny Manson delivers some rather witty lines on the track, referencing 6ix9ine’s court controversies and Dragon Ball Z’s Broly. He also incorporates an intricate rhyme scheme on top of the already intriguing accents he places on his words.
“Take_it_Back_v2 – GODMODE 950 Version” radically changes the direction and intention of “Take_it_Back_v2” – it’s a full EDM remix that serves as a great outro to the album. The lyrics are intertwined with very fast and complex drum beats, which, to be honest, border on breakbeat territory speed-wise. The bass line also has a very nice melody, and the track itself is super cohesive. While the leading melody to the track is rather bland, Denzel Curry’s bars more than make up for it substantively.
The only track on the album which is objectively worse than the original is “‘Cosmic’.4a [The Alchemist Version Feat. Joey BadA$$],” where the droning instrumental meshes with Denzel’s original verse about oil and water. While the beat does switch to be slightly more adequate at some points in the track, and Joey Bada$$ delivers a passable verse in the latter half, the track itself pales in comparison to the original track “‘Cosmic’.m4a,” which was the best track on UNLOCKED.
The main issue with UNLOCKED 1.5 as a cohesive record is that, to be frank, the rest of the tracks are rather forgettable. There are some decent verses and alright alternative beats presented throughout the tracklist, but none of them really stick, and none of them really compare to their counterparts on UNLOCKED. There isn’t anything in these tracks to truly catch the listener’s ear, at least not as well as the original mixes would. They aren’t bad, and there’s definitely some merit to each of them, but they aren’t incredibly good either – they’re just passable.
That being said, there are definitely tracks on this album that are worth a listen, especially to hardcore Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats fans. While UNLOCKED is definitively superior to UNLOCKED 1.5 as a cohesive album, there are definitely moments on UNLOCKED 1.5 that build upon and meaningfully change the ideas that were originally presented. The majority of it, however, is rather unnecessary, and leaves a blasé feeling in the end.