As far as this ‘new era’ of young talents dominating hip-hop as a whole goes, Denzel Curry pretty much tops that list. I’ve been a fan ever since his incredible 2018 project TA13OO, though his 2016 album Imperial is a pretty great introduction to his work. Between albums, he has experimented with different sounds, and coming from Florida, has represented the southern sound beautifully throughout the years. Zuu is exemplary to that, a short but punchy project taking music back to his roots. It’s a personal body of work, and one to properly immerse yourself in. It’s not only his intricate wordplay that’s noticed and admired in his music, but it’s his diverse flows and eclectic voices that captured the animated aura of his overall artistry. And yet here we are, in 2022, 5 albums deep, with what is potentially his best album to date in Melt My Eyez See Your Future. It’s more expansive and inviting than both TA1300 and Zuu, with a soulful yet punchy and animated sound that makes it so catchy and easy to get into. Every time I listen to it and finish it I can’t wait to return back to it, and it’s a testament to its replay value.
It starts with the smooth and jazzy “Melt Session #1” featuring the legend Robert Glasper, whose contribution is nothing short of beautiful. Denzel Curry’s blistering raps about his childhood and learnings as a young man. It’s his growth in character that’s reflecting in the track, and makes for a powerful opening statement. It then flows straight into one of my favourite tracks on the album, “Walkin”, with that incredible Keith Mansfield sample, and Denzel Curry rhyming his ass off throughout. The way his flow picks up half way through the beat, that also builds is incredible, and it’s another punchy, triumphant moment on the album. The album then flows into probably my favourite track off the album, “Worst Comes to Worst”. The beat here is incredible, with chimes and synths that animate the groovy beat. The bassline and guitar line is truly phenomenal, and the way Denzel changes his tone and delivery is great. The dystopian, gritty reality he’s able to portray here and the way he’s able to rhyme effortlessly throughout it, makes it such a memorable listen. The JPEGMAFIA-produced “John Wayne” is special too, and it’s a grower that just sits with me in the best possible way. Buzzy Lee, who features on this track, is incredible as well. The colourful “Mental” featuring Saul Williams and Bridget Perez is fantastic too. “Troubles” with T-Pain was cool, but not really my cuppa tea yet, it may be a grower. “Ain’t No Way” features a cypher of talented emcees, with 6LACK, Rico Nasty, JID, Powers Pleasant, Jasiah and Kitty Ca$h all doing their thing. “Run the Jewels cause I kill a mic on any LP” is a standout bar, and one Denzel has revealed as his favourite. The beat and hook on “X-Wing” are phenomenal. Denzel’s emphatic verses are brought by incredible wordplay and vast cultural references that make his music so fun to listen to and digest. Mixing personal, emotional moments on animated, soulful soundscapes, he’s able to bring the depth of his character forward, revealing his vulnerabilities on his album effortlessly and in such a relatable way. Th way he’s been able to articulate himself on this particular project is better, more refined and clever. “Angelz” featuring Karriem Riggins on the drums and as a producer exemplifies this poignantly. “The Smell Of Death” is a fun, upbeat jam featuring Thundercat’s incredible production, complementing Denzel’s upbeat and animated sound perfectly. The dark trap of “Sanjuro” with 454 is infectious and incredibly dynamic. Like a streetfight, it’s an intense, hard-hitting track that is just truly phenomenal. “Zatoichi” with slowthai is intense, as I expect when both of them team-up. “The Ills” closes the album out beautiful piano sample that adds to the smooth and jazzy feel of the track as a whole, and Denzel Curry spits some personal bars about his mental state and wanting to back back to what he was feeling like when he was a kid. Another beautiful, autobiographical moment that captures Denzel’s state of mind so flawlessly, closing the album out in a reflective tone.
Overall, Denzel Curry has not only sharpened his pen, but also brought a whole new sound and energy to his music, which after 5 studio releases, is so admirable. He’s consistently created immersive and expansive world’s, populated with hard-hitting, gritty beats, and more melancholic and soulful moments to balance out the grit and dystopia. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, as cliché’d as that sounds, rings true to Melt My Eyez See Your Future, and is one of his most career-defining, powerful projects to date. He’s elevated himself to new heights musically, and I am excited for him for sure! Go listen Denzel Curry’s new album Melt My Eyez See Your Future and let me know your thoughts!