by Kenny Beats
Released August 31, 2022 via XL Recordings
Reviewed September 13, 2022
Top tracks (based on community voting)
Still (feat. JPEGMAFIA & Omar Apollo) (75%), Hold My Head (feat. Pink Siifu) (42%), Last Words (feat. Fousheé) (33%)
Coming out of The Cave with the motto of “Don’t Over Think Shit,” Kenny Beats’ first solo album sees the producer honing in on what he does best. At its core, Louie is a beat tape—but a really solid one. It might not end up with the lasting impact of a record like Donuts, but its ability to channel emotion and soulfulness through loops and samples is certainly bred from a similar cloth.
Having produced for punk acts such as Trash Talk and IDLES, as well as rappers Vince Staples and Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats’ production list was notably diverse prior to Louie. Trap beats may be his forte, but there’s been no reason to doubt his ability to find his footing in any lane he pursues. On his solo debut, Kenny Beats opts for more dynamic and jazzy, sample-based production that created somewhat of a complicated atmosphere.
Crafted in honor of his father, Louie pays tribute in a way that a typical ‘beat tape’ could not. Incorporating voice snippets of his father—a former broadcaster—and putting together ridiculously smooth transitions, this record is an homage in every sense. Warm instrumentation and soul samples combine for what is predominantly a joyous and celebratory mood, but not one without a clear somber and emotionally heavy undertone. Guest appearances are sparse, and these few features often operate more so in the background—with contributions that serve as complementary to the beat—rather than taking control of the track. Few words are spoken, but Kenny Beats’ debut still has plenty to say. – Dominick (8.2/10)
Kenny Beats steps bravely into the role of headlining act, subverting the support role he’s played for many beloved artists, with them now lending support to his efforts as a solo act. Kenny is a versatile producer, often working near the neutral zone of hip-hop’s mainstream and underground domains. Predicting a sound and style for this debut instrumental album was a fairly speculative endeavor, and thankfully, the record comes with a modest offering of pleasant surprises. Louie’s cover art, an impressionist painting, alludes to the generally blissful and pleasant sounds featured in the album’s production. Many of the individual tracks ring out as being upbeat, heavenly, and uplifting. Machine-made and live instrument sounds make a harmonious mixture in a large portion of tracks, with nice use of samples as well. Inflections of iconic producers like 9th Wonder, J Dilla, Kanye West, and Madlib, all make fractional appearances in numerous moments throughout. Louie may not have the boldest creative outlines, like that of a creation by Flying Lotus or Slauson Malone, but what it keeps is a vibrancy and confidence that is ultimately endearing. – DeVán (7.5/10)
Dominick: 8.2/10 | Cam: 7.8/10 | DeVán: 7.5/10 | Hadley: 7.5/10
Pax: 7.5/10 | Daniel: 7/10 | Jared: 7/10