I know this came out all the way back in February, but the way I do these albums of the week is I leave them in my active playlist until I’ve heard them enough times to move them to the 2020 folder. It took about five listens before I was ready to move Unlocked to its next location in my library. Because it’s awesome.
I’ve always appreciated Denzel Curry, but he never made it to the top of my list–but his pairing with Kenny Beats may be the thing I needed. Beats’ beats recall MF DOOM, only with more hooks and less complete oddness, and RZA, only without the grotesquely violent imagery. Or maybe it’s that Curry is clearly trying on songs like Cosmic to rap in the style of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. And on the brilliant “Diet”, he alternates between DMX and Jay-Z–a one-man reenactment of Murder Inc. As I write this, I realize that it may sound like Unlocked is wholly derivative. It’s definitely not. Much like Andy Warhol, Beats and Curry take familiar commercial artifacts and transform them into something subversive and powerful. Of course, there are terrific one-liners. “Diamonds on me like Thanos.” “Pamela Anderson, Pam Grier–the man’s here.” “My bitch bad like battle-rappers that make albums with no outcome.”
Best of all, it’s fun. Between Curry’s constantly unpredictable verses and beats that shift and swerve, inserting background voices and hooks at blinding speed, Unlocked is a record you should never get tired of.
Runner ups for album of the week:
The Strokes, The New Abnormal.
There are two really great songs on this album: The Adults are Talking and From Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus. The rest are all vintage Strokes. I enjoyed the album, but had hoped for a little more. Still, I would expect most fans of the band to enjoy this release.
A much more interesting release is Antarctica by Flat Worms, a power trio consisting of members of some of the best modern psychedelic bands around (Ty Segall, Oh Sees, and Dream Boys). It’s a solid album, but I’m not sure I’ll still be hanging with it after a few more listens. The problem with the Ty Segall school of heavy psych is that there’s just so much of it these days that none of it feels very special.
Tanya Morgan’s Be Right Back EP.
Just a few songs from a rap team that’s been all-too quiet for all-too long…