“Hey Louie!” - Kenny Beats’ Louie Revives 90’s Mixtape Magic
Donned in his signature cap and collared shirt, Kenneth Charles Blume III swivels around in his desk chair with a can of Yerba Mate cracked open in his right hand. Behind him sits Carol City rapper, Denzel Curry, ready for his freestyle. Atop a desk full of knick knacks, computer plug-ins, and rolling trays sits a Mac playing a half-done beat through a speaker. Welcome to The Cave.
Kenneth Blume III, known in the music industry as Kenny Beats, is a jack of many trades. He is most well known for his producer-artist collaborations with talents such as Vince Staples, Slowthai, Denzel Curry, and Zach Fox as well as his show on Youtube. His show, titled The Cave, is notorious for both an inside look at his production process and his relationships with guest artists. Not only has this made him personable, it has solidified him as the closest thing to this generation’s Madlib.
In the past, Kenny’s work has audibly revolved around the artists. Listeners have heard his beats take on qualities of whoever he was working with at the time, with prime examples of this being collaborative projects such as UNLOCKED with Denzel Curry and Anger Management with Rico Nasty. While other producers and artists may have been dissatisfied with this role, Kenny affirmed it by making it clear that he “didn’t have anything to say”. However, this mindset changed when he received the news that his father, Louie, had been diagnosed with cancer. Now with something to say, Kenny Beats released his first solo album titled Louie on August 31.
The seventeen track project pays tribute to his father, while drawing from 90’s hip-hop idols. In tracks such as “Moire”, “Eternal”, and “So They Say” listeners can hear clear influences from albums such as Madlib’s jazz/ hip-hop project titled Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note. On other narrated tracks such as “The Perch”, opening track “Leonard”,”Really Really”, and “That Third Thing”, Kenny directly interpolates snippets from his father’s old radio show titled The Perch. In these songs, listeners can hear conversations between the father-son duo and experience parts of their heart-warming relationship first-hand.
The tracklist reads as featureless but upon closer inspection, listeners can hear appearances from Slowthai, JPEGMafia, Omar Apollo, Mac DeMarco, Dijon, and Remi Wolf, to name a few. This mixed bag of artists from the alternative scene help him find his own niche sound that sounds so familiar, but you can’t quite put your finger on.
A solo album from a producer is not a rare thing (industry moguls such as Metro Boomin and Kaytranada are no strangers to this concept,), however, most of them fail to create a narrative and story for their audience. Kenny does the impossible in this category and creates not only a narrative, but recreates the same sentimental feeling of flipping through a family photo album through a simple seventeen songs. While the acclaimed producer previously had nothing to say, he ended up outdoing some of his greatest competitors while also paying tribute to Louie himself.