Kenny Beats Brings Passion and Pain on ‘LOUIE’ (REVIEW)
6 Sep 2022
Star Rating: 4/5
Kenny Beats is one of the most respected producers in Hip-Hop, collaborating with everyone from Denzel Curry to SL. But, now we have his debut album ‘LOUIE.’ It was written in tribute to his father who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during the making of this LP.
“I always said that I wouldn’t do a solo album because I didn’t have anything to say. Finally, I did. Something dark turned into something beautiful. This album encapsulated the feeling of that one month.”Kenny Beats Via Press Release (2022)
‘LOUIE‘ was a nickname in reference to a family friend. While this album reflects on the love for his father, it also details the success of the man behind the album title. The range of guests on offer is well picked, with slowthai to Pink Sifu having their vocals altered in a way that fits the project’s themes.
Kenny Beats is known for his creative production, and he shows that off on this project in abundance. Whether on ‘Parenthesis‘ with its sampled chipmunk vocals, wavy synths, and even a trombone, or the funky-jazzy sound of ‘So They Say,’ this album’s instrumentals are well crafted. While some like the Reggae-influenced ‘Hooper‘ do feel a little underdeveloped, he shows his array of instruments and his talent here, proving you can capture emotion without words.
When a guest appears on the project, he uses them well and in tandem with the themes. Pink Siifu and Kenny Beats are a great pairing on ‘Hold My Head,’ as the whispered, raspy vocals detail about holding your head up and being there for someone besides this. The use of a 60’s sounding guitar and sampled choir, (maybe referencing his father’s formative years) fit the vocals and gets across the feelings Kenny has for his maker.
His use of slowthai is great on ‘Family Tree,’ with co-production from Mac DeMarco giving it a fun, freestyle feel. Some tracks don’t quite get it right as the Dijon featuring ‘Get Around‘ goes on a bit too long and ‘Still‘ with JPEGMAFIA and Omar Apollo is let down by just missing that something on the production front.
The standout track for me was ‘Last Words,’ reminding me of Arlo Parks’ ‘Too Good‘ with the mellow sounds, heightened by the use of brass. It leaves you with a feeling of tranquility and being one with nature, while Fousheé and Remi Wolf’s angelic vocals make things come together. The song is about saying goodbye, with Vince Staples at the end saying you’ll never say goodbye as he’ll never be gone. It’s powerful in showing the sadness Kenny was feeling, but also knowing the lessons his father taught him means he will never forget him, and that Kenny Beats himself will use these to immortalise his career.
‘Hot Hand‘ is a lovely closer with the building drums and acoustic guitar used to effect alongside the contributions of Paris Texas. It’s a poetic verse talking of opposites, the emotions of life, and how he’s been helped by those around him to get to this point. It wraps up the message well and as Kenny said in his quote, he had something to say on this project.
Kenny Beats has really crafted his own thing on this LP, using artists to fit his production and sometimes with little vocals, expressing emotion and passion. The album suffers from not every track quite hitting or being developed in an interesting way, but the heart shown here and crafting of his personal experiences is a welcome tribute to his father.