Kenny Beats

Kenny Beats

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About Kenny Beats

The producer Kenny Beats remembers his first session with the rapper Rico Nasty. Rico had had traction by then, but was looking for a change in direction, something that wouldn’t hem her in. Could Kenny do metal? Sure, he said. Why not? It didn’t make sense, but it didn’t not make sense either. Twenty minutes later, Rico didn’t just have a new track, but a path forward, a sense of liberation from where she’d been and a fresh idea of where she might go. More than a beatmaker, Beats is an upgraded model of an old-fashioned producer, a Rick Rubin-style figure who doesn’t just shape the mechanics of the music but helps shepherd an artist’s vision into the world. Whether it’s full-length projects (Vince Staples’s FM, Denzel Curry’s UNLOCKED) or one-offs (Beats’ popular YouTube series The Cave, in which he and a rapper build a short track in the studio from scratch), there’s an ethic to what Beats does that makes him stand out, a balance of classic ideals—face-to-face collaboration instead of file-swapping, for example—with a sense of looseness and dynamism that reflects how we conceive of music now. The thing about Rico and heavy metal—it wasn’t that it was Kenny’s idea, it was that he was the first producer who told her it might be a good one. Born Kenneth Blume III in 1991, Beats started out playing drums and guitar as a kid before heading to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he built a working career as part of the EDM DJ duo LOUDPVCK. In 2017, he shifted his focus to his first love, hip-hop, building up a diverse resume (Freddie Gibbs, 03 Greedo, the hardcore band Trash Talk) in a short period of time. At some point, he diversified, cofounding a creative consulting company fittingly called D.O.T.S.—Don’t Over Think Shit.

New York, NY, United States
May 10, 1991

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