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Kenny Beats Steps Into The Spotlight In His Soulful Tiny Desk Concert

Usually, when you think of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts, you tend to think of rappers, singers, and other vocalists. Although it’s a live band music series, the focus is usually on the frontmen, women, and people, rather than on the musicians that make up the band or the producers who create the music.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s no place for producers at the forefront. Kenny Beats, who is best known for providing pounding hip-hop bangers to rappers like Denzel Curry, Rico Nasty, and Vince Staples (who he previously played a Tiny Desk with), sits on the backline for his Tiny Desk performance, but there’s no doubt that he and the soulful production from his debut solo album Louie are the stars of the show.

In a pretty cool flip of the usual dynamic, Kenny plays the backbeat on drums while his backup singers soulfully reproduce the samples that populate the album. Kenny also brings in a few guest performers, including Jpegmafia, who raps on “Still” and Remi Wolf, who sings on “Last Words.” Nami closes out the set with “Rotten.”

Kenny’s album is dedicated to his dad, and he addresses the complexity of making music for your family. “This is an album about family I made with my friends,” he explains. “Usually, music about familly is about how much you love them, how much you care about them… everybody knows family is a much more difficult thing to explain in 2-3 minutes.”

Watch Kenny’s Tiny Desk performance above.