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Album Review: DENM hops genres on Cali-centric debut

There’s no denying that California has been celebrated in music for decades for its sunny days and sandy shores. But for every bubblegum pop anthem about girls in Daisy Dukes and bikinis, there’s a massive musical catalog about what’s happening under the sparkly surface. Slum Beach Denny, the debut album from DENM, falls squarely into the latter—a melting pot of reggae and hip hop and rock with multicultural influences and some notable collaborations. It’s a celebration of “the seedier side of SoCal” that is often overlooked.   

Make no mistake, reggae is the most obvious genre at play here, making Slum Beach Denny the perfect album for fans of Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, and Rebelution. A-side track “Califas” features Jared Watson of Dirty Heads, and “No Break” should be in the rotation on every island radio station. Single “My Wave” landed DENM on Spotify’s ‘Beach Vibes’ playlist back in December and has since been added to ‘Soak Up the Sun’ as validation. But the booming beats underneath the chilled-out vocals keep you locked in and interested. 

It makes sense for DENM to release a genre-hopping album. As a self-proclaimed music lover, he sings the praises of every genre and doesn’t understand why people only listen to one of them. Even his musical career spans from indie/alt rock (touring band FMLYBND) to EDM (to make some extra cash) before going solo. So in a way, Slum Beach Denny is nearly a decade in the making.    

Though DENM handled production for the album, it was far from a one-man effort. Nearly half the tracks are collabs with West coast artists, hand picked by DENM—he felt it important to work with fellow creatives from his community. After bouncing from beach town to beach town and getting kicked out of schools and homes, he’s come full circle and is reinvesting in the music that provided him an outlet as a teenager and young adult. The result is some truly stellar interludes and a hard-hitting outro. “Kick It” ft. The Pattern and “91 Cadillac” ft. Casey Veggies especially are standouts that would be at home on a rap album, adding yet another element to Denny. 

DENM says Slum Beach Denny is only the beginning, and it’s hard not to believe him. His focus on making good art gives him plenty of opportunity to explore, create, reflect, rinse, and repeat. No style rules, just vibes.   

Story by Taylor Knauf
Photo credit: Dave Kraina