Kenny Beats played Central Park w/ Zack Fox, ZelooperZ, Nick Hakim, Kenny Mason & more (pics)
The final concert of the 2021 Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage concert series took place on Saturday, October 2nd at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. The evening was presented by D.O.T.S. (which stands for “Don’t Over Think Shit”) and featured a headlining set by Los Angeles based producer Kenny Beats -- known for his production on tracks by Rico Nasty, Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs, and more -- with some of his friends.
Before the concert began, Kenny Beats met fans next to the merch table, handed out D.O.T.S. patches, signed autographs, and posed for pictures with anyone who stood in a long line to do so.
The first live performances of the evening were by two rappers who appeared on the third (and latest) season of “The Cave,” Kenny Beats’ web series where he and rappers create a freestyle in his studio together. Up first was Teezo Touchdown, who initially appeared on stage dressed as a mascot, his hair adorned in nails, and was joined by a coach. Once the stuffed head of his costume was removed, he did songs such as “Strong Friend” (preceded by a sing along of Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”), “Careful,” and “I’m Just a Fan” live for the very first time, with many in the audience singing along. During Touchdown’s set, mosh pits appeared in the area up front and continued throughout the night.
Atlanta’s Kenny Mason was the next rapper to follow on the bill, and performed his tracks such as “Angelic Hoodrat,” “Metal Wings,” “Hit,” plus the freestyle that was created with Kenny Beats on “The Cave” for the crowd. Before his set on Saturday, I wasn’t thoroughly familiar with Kenny Mason beyond his appearance on “The Cave,” but I truly enjoyed his set and the way he combines elements of rock within his rap songs.
Comedian/rapper Zack Fox followed Mason and began his set with “The Bean Kicked In,” with many in the audience singing along to his raunchy lyrics. We were treated to other songs of his such as “IHY2LN,” “Square Up” (a song about fighting from 2018 that was produced by Kenny Beats), a freestyle, and his newest song, “Fafo," that he released the day before. He then brought out two special guests of his own: 454 and ZelooperZ. I have been listening to Detroit rapper ZelooperZ’s Van Gogh’s Left Ear frequently after purchasing it on one of the Bandcamp Fridays, so hearing the first song on the record, “Battery,” and “Each and Every Moment” live during Fox’s set was an unexpected and wonderful treat. Zack then performed another song, sang and danced along to J. Lo’s “Waiting for Tonight,” and then his set was over although many in attendance, myself included, expected him to perform at least one more.
For Kenny Beats' set on Saturday night, he featured musicians that aren’t as famous as some of his other collaborators to perform a song or two while he DJed music by other acts as he stood on stage sandwiched between two giant screens. Some of the musicians that we heard songs by were DMX (“Ruff Ryders Anthem” and “Party Up”), Snoop Dogg (“Drop It Like It’s Hot”), Soulja Boy (“Pretty Boy Swag”), Sheck Wes (“Mo Bamba”), Thundercat (“Dragonball Durag”), and Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar (“Range Brothers”). When he felt the audience wasn’t dancing enough, he threatened to play EDM songs instead and then dropped Calvin Harris’ “Feel So Close.”
Amid the recorded tracks, Kenny brought out Bouba Savage, DJ Lucas, and Nick Hakim as his special guests to perform a song or two for the audience. Kenny’s final guest was Zack Fox who returned to the stage again to perform his viral hit that was created for Kenny Beats’ web series, “Jesus is the One (I Got Depression).” Kenny remarked that one song can ruin your entire life and jokingly admonished us for singing the final line of the song. On a more serious note, Kenny Beats shared with the crowd that five years ago, he was in the audience of a concert and kept working and creating music with his friends and seemed very appreciative of where he was today, giving a concert of his own attended by thousands of people in Central Park. He then played Cam’ron’s “Oh Boy,” and the final performance of the SummerStage 2021 season came to an end.
Photos by Edwina Hay continue below...