In August of 2022, Kenny Beats unveiled his debut studio LP, LOUIE, a 17-track body of work with a powerful backstory. A year prior, the decorated producer learned that his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, with help from close collaborators like Slowthai, Thundercat, Fousheé, and Omar Apollo; decided to create a heartfelt tribute in response.
On Monday (Feb. 13), Kenny Beats brought the sounds of LOUIE to NPR Music for their popular “Tiny Desk Concert” series. During the short yet amazing set, the Connecticut talent performed live renditions of “Still,” “Last Words,” and “Rotten,” with JPEGMAFIA, Remi Wolf, Nami, and a band of musicians providing assistance throughout. Taking a brief pause early in the clip, Kenny further explained the importance of the record for the uninitiated.
“This is an album about family I made with my friends,” he said. “Usually, I feel like music about family is how much you love them, how much you care about them. Everybody knows family is a much more difficult thing to explain in two, three minutes. I made this when my dad first got sick, [it] kind of encapsulates our relationship together, and I hope you think about whoever that person is for you.”
He continued, “Sometimes you love them, sometimes you hate them, you can’t get rid of them, but I wanted these lyrics and this music to make you think about that. So try to go to that place.”
Over the past decade, Kenny Beats contributed to some of hip hop and R&B’s most notable projects, including Ab-Soul’s These Days…, YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s Until Death Call My Name, Vince Staples’ FM!, FKA twigs’ Magdalene, and Freddie Gibbs’ $oul $old $eparately. He also created classic joint efforts like Anger Management and UNLOCKED with Rico Nasty and Denzel Curry, respectively. Enjoy Kenny Beats’ “Tiny Desk” performance — and, if you missed it, LOUIE — below.