Denzel Curry is often referred to as one of the forefathers of South Florida’s SoundCloud rap scene. The Sunshine State has been a hotbed for underground hip-hop in recent years and with a continuous output of mixtapes and albums since 2011, Curry has proven to be one of the scene’s heaviest hitters. But it’s not just the quantity of Curry’s projects that have brought him renown and respect in the rap game. Unlike many of his peers in the genre, who place little importance on production or lyricism, Curry is able to produce consistently thoughtful and emotionally charged tracks with catchy hooks. He has continuously proven that he can keep up with the ever-changing landscape of modern hip-hop while hearkening back to its golden era.
This is a fairly impressive feat considering he was born in 1995. He was only 16 when he released his first mixtape, Remembered Underground Tape 1991–1995, which garnered significant attention from SpaceGhostPurrp’s Florida hip-hop collective, Raider Klan.
Fast forward to 2018 and Curry’s unparalleled artistic talent is apparent on his third full-length album, TA13OO. The 13-track effort is dissected into three acts, Light, Gray and Dark, pulling the listener into a sonic Shakespearean problem play. It starts with the soulful title track, which features a nostalgic, dreamlike beat and Curry’s rarely revealed Andre 3000-esque singing voice before descending into the stormy, trap-tinged “Sumo” and “Switch It Up.” It then dives deeper with “Clout Cobain,” an infectious banger propelled by a beat reminiscent of late rapper XXXTentacion’s “Moonlight” and anchored by Curry’s distinctive, punchy bars about suicide and being in the spotlight. The video features macabre carnival imagery, complete with Curry in creepy clown makeup.
Ta13OO is an honest portrait of the human condition; its subject matter ranges from politics to personal turmoil and is largely a call to arms to reflect on both what’s going on around you and within you. Curry proves that sometimes it’s not enough to rhyme about drop tops and designer jeans; it’s rapping about what’s beneath the surface that makes an album truly seminal, especially in a scene that’s saturated with flexing.
The album is filled with incisive cultural references and innovative production, but this is nothing new. Creativity has always been Curry’s calling card.
On stage, Curry is a powerhouse, erupting with unbridled energy that can only stem from someone who feels what they’re spitting deep in their bones. With SoundCloud rap surrounded by contention and often labeled as lacking substance, Denzel Curry is clearly in a league of his own.
Catch him at Club Red on Wednesday, October 24.
Denzel Curry w/ City Morgue, Club Red, 1306 W. University Drive, Mesa, clubredrocks.com, Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m., $18-$75.