“Catch me on the zenith getting jailed for misdemeanors. That’s until I change the channel to an ad for Neutrogena. On the TV screen, before my very eyes, I know that revolution will never be televised…” Denzel Curry rips through on “Zenith.”
Denzel Curry has been grinding for a while now. However, the awareness for him does not reflect the effort he has dedicated to the rap game or the talent he possesses. If you don’t know what I am talking about, or are thinking “preach!” then read on. Curry is a South Florida based rapper that has been around the block for a little while now but isn’t making waves as big as he could be. You probably know his “Ultimate” as the “one-quarter full water bottle flipping song,” and that’s a travesty. Denzel uses a powerful, relentless flow that never ceases to amaze. Curry is about to blow up and I’m going to get you caught up on him before it happens. You can send me some flowers or something.
Before we even get into his music, his background is nearly just as interesting. Curry attended Miami Carol City High School which has seen the likes of rapper Rick Ross, wide receiver Santana Moss and the late Trayvon Martin all walk through their doors. All of these faces played an integral part in his career and their influences show up in his work time and time again. They have spurred Curry to explore many aspects of oppression and in due time, he’s going to spark change in society.
Curry’s debut album Nostalgic 64 was released on Sept. 3, 2013. Prior to this release, though, he left SpaceGhostPurrp’s “Raider Klan” to become independent. This was a pivotal decision in his career because he was now free to address a wide range of topics in his work, without first consulting a label. The record opens with the banger “Zone 3” which starts, “This is dedicated to the memoir of my niggas, damn. Most of them victimized because the daily crack-crackers be blaming and sending them. Down to the county, face down on the pavement. Black man in Carol City my visual is the same shit.” Here we see the themes of racial inequality and police brutality, which spur from his roots at Miami Carol City High School, becoming central to Denzel’s identity as an artist. Within these words, in the first seconds of his first album, we see him purely. He knew the risks of appearing one-sided on a debut album, though, and made sure to avoid this pitfall. He does many things on his debut album, which really impressed me. The song “Denny Cascade” comes on the back end of the LP and contains a dainty, slow and melodic beat paired with fun, swag-filled lyrics. He raps, “Doctor, I am so proper. Look at the posture. I’ll cross her and probably call her, by then I lost her.”
Denzel’s next project was his double-EP 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms on June 9, 2015. Given its nature as a double-EP, Curry had a lot of space to try out different flows and beats. The song “Delusional Shone” houses a suspenseful and wicked beat coupled with a fast paced but reserved flow. Curry tears through, “All of y’all watered down like a tub full of suds, I cannot fuck with you let me roll up my bud. Can you look like a dime? Or can you roll up a dub? Get to the club, you say that you aren’t looking for love. But you’re dark and lovely, and the night looks gusty. Marijuana and bubbly, now your body looks lusty,” in 12 seconds. We also have the afore mentioned “Ultimate” which holds back nothing. For three minutes you are given a spoonful of Denzel’s untamed rage at society, the rap industry and his haters. Much like the opening seconds of “Zone 3,” this is Curry’s purest form. The only differences are that this time, he is surrounded by a far more intricate beat and his bars are noticeably harder and delivered with more emotion. This was a sign of good things to come.
Most recently, Denzel gave us Imperial on March 9, 2016. His second studio album carries many of the same vibes as his previous work, but with a few twists. One of these twists is “Zenith.” “Zenith” has quickly become one of my favorite songs of the year for its multi-faceted beat as well as the sense of hope and happiness it portrays, which Curry rarely gives us. “Pure Enough” is another classic on this project. It contains a light and airy beat starkly contrasted with piercing lyrics. “Are you pure enough, to keep it real with yourself when you’re in the mirror bruh? Or when you all alone, girl are you sure enough? Keep it G is the key and that is the cure cure for us. You said you had enough. Are you pure enough?” he slams on the hook.
If you still aren’t convinced that Denzel Curry is destined for great things, you ought to listen to a little thing known as the XXL Freshman Class, a hip-hop magazine that releases a group of “freshman” every year. This exclusive group of new faces comprises who the magazine believes are the stars of tomorrow. They have been right a few times: J. Cole in 2010, Kendrick Lamar in 2011, Future in 2012 and Travis Scott in 2013. Denzel Curry was added to that list in 2016.
Don’t quote me on saying Denzel will achieve the level of fame that those names have, but if you missed out on being the person that knew who Kendrick was before Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, this is your chance to make up for it. I don’t want to be quoted because Denzel is such a unique artist that even I am not sure where he will go from here. He stays close to his roots, but he isn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone on songs like “Delusional Shone” and “Pure Enough.” Wherever Curry ends up, you’re going to wish you were watching it unfold.
by Travis Breese