The album cover for Kenny Beats’ album LOUIE. PHOTO COURTESY OF BEATNAIJA
American producer, songwriter and engineer Kenny Beats released his debut solo album LOUIE via XL Recordings on Aug. 31, giving his fans a record to spin on repeat as we near the end of 2022. Kenneth Charles Blume III, professionally known as Kenny Beats, is arguably the most popular and upcoming producer within the hip hop world, and has collaborated with a list of well known artists such as Rico Nasty, Denzel Curry, Dominic Fike and many more. Kenny Beats began to gain traction within the music industry with his popular series “The Cave,” which premiered on Youtube during 2019 and has grown with the artist ever since. “The Cave” features Kenny and some of his friends in his studio chopping up beats to create a song in less than 30 minutes. Star appearances such as Doja Cat and Lil Yachthy have helped the series grow along the way.
Through his growth, Kenny has been a large inspiration for those looking to create careers within the music industry as well. Throughout lockdown, as the world stayed inside, Kenny grew his social media and online presence tremendously. He began streaming daily on popular web streaming site Twitch, and used the platform to create a community welcome to anyone. Kenny quickly became a beacon of positivity within the music industry and often gives back and recognizes upcoming talent within his community. On countless occasions, Kenny has gifted his fans equipment and tools to aid in their own creative journeys. Cultivating a space for individuals to share ideas and collaborate has had a tremendously positive impact on the scene and Kenny truly cares about the success of those within it. Being a producer, collaboration is one of the key elements in Kenny’s career and he encourages others to do the same and meet others with similar passions.
LOUIE, Kenny’s debut solo album, was created as a gift for his father who, at the time, had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The entire album was crafted within just a month while Kenny was in England working on Idles’ album, Crawler, during December 2021. The album is described as a “deeply personal tribute” to his father, and Kenny never actually intended on releasing his own solo album. “I always said that I wouldn’t do a solo album because I didn’t have anything to say. Finally, I did,” Kenny said in a statement. “Something dark turned into something beautiful. This album encapsulated the feeling of that one month.”
The album kicks off with track number one titled “Leonard,” in which a conversation between Kenny and his father is had, discussing the origins of the name Louie. From there, the album is a continuous ride of not only colorful instrumentals and beats but also perfectly chopped samples painting a picture of Kenny’s childhood and relationship with his father. The use of horns, piano and unique drum patterns throughout the project make for an emotional and warm sound, allowing the listener to soak in the record more and more with every spin. Each track sitting at about a minute and a half in length also makes for an easy listen and the album flows seamlessly throughout. One of the standout tracks on the album is “Family Tree,” which features UK rapper Slowthai, along with legendary producer Mac Demarco adding in soulful guitar licks throughout the track. One of my personal favorites on the record, and perhaps an underrated track, is titled “Last Words”. The track features artists, Vince Staples, Remi Wolf and Fousheé who combine to create a gorgeous sound on the track. The use of horns in mixture with vocals from the features projects a strong feeling of both warmth and comfort.
Conceptually, LOUIE is easily one of the most gorgeous projects I have heard artistically. From cover art to inspiration and sound, the project is undeniably beautiful. Just spending a week with the album has convinced me that it will go down as an absolute classic, and I could not recommend it more. To me, as of September 2022, LOUIE is an easy standout for feel-good project of the year, as Kenny Beats was able to turn a dark situation into a gift for not only his father but the rest of the world. Kenny said in a statement to his fans immediately following the release, “I made this as a gift for my dad and I just woke up and saw the whole world listening to it. I’ve never felt this feeling in my life. Thank you so much all, really”. I would like to in return say thank you to Kenny for giving us this record and wish his father the best of luck in his battle with cancer.