- Act 1: Light
- Act 2: Gray
- Act 3: Dark
For such a young man (Denzel is the ripe ol’ age of 23) Denzel displays a maturity ahead of his years on ‘TA13OO‘. Largely this comes through the inspiration artists are often fired up by – reflecting their realities, which is for too many the challenging environments they grew up in. However when such negative or testing experiences can be channelled in a creative fashion and given back to the world as positive energy to help people, this can be very powerful.
Denzel is bracketed as one of these artists, with an example of such harsh experiences relayed as he came with one of the most candid beginnings to a verse from recent memory on AJ Tracey‘s 2017 banger ‘Alakazam‘: Denzel exclaims “If I see the cop that killed my brother, believe he’ll die from the headshots“. Turning a true family damaging tragedy into powerful art is one hell of a way to begin a verse and shows how Denzel has harnessed motivation from this to the point of musical progression he has so far amassed and is continuing to show. This negative to positive theme is drawn for immediately on the title track, as a tale of a female he was in a relationship with who was molested at five years old is grimly recounted.
Laced in ferocity and here to tell you something at all times, one thing the enthralling and motivating ‘TA13OO‘ does very well – that I feel an album should do – is take you somewhere. The journey we depart on navigates through the appropriately titled segments of ‘light‘, ‘gray‘ and ‘dark‘ with each situating Denzel in various moods and states of minds. One thing that is made abundantly clear is Denzel‘s desire to expand his repertoire, the range he is considered within and elevate his artistry.
Act 1: Light
The opening act of the triple-segmented ‘TA13OO‘ sees Denzel, aka Zeltron utilise a far more low-key and relaxed delivery than the heavy metal esque angst ridden shouting approach he has previously championed and pulled off so well, however this choice comes off well and is far from a negative – we are simply watching the Aquarius Killer blossom: ‘Black Balloons‘ may be the happiest sounding Curry song to date that carries an infectious energy while an assertive yet subtle flow rips through the verses making way for light and gleaming melodies that float you away.
His commanding delivery demands your attention at all times as a listener and as such you are never let down – there is always a point being relayed, a moral expressed and/or a message being driven. ‘Cash Maniac‘ demonstrates this in a refreshing and honest fashion, punctuated by Nyjeria’s soulful chorus vocals. Discussing a common rap topic of amassing hella money, yet done so with foresight and realisations of how to not fall into pitfalls of excessive spending that usually befalls the money-obsessive ‘balling’ majority who put everything into ‘flashing’ and useless commodities – like wearing designer EVERYTHING.
‘Sumo‘ is the first moment that delivers the moshpit-enducing frenetic Denzel we are more accustomed to; the rasp is out in full force here atop a heavy and brooding beat that seeks to incite tension and make you attack your furniture. This is gonna be an absolute firework at a live performance; I’m already fearful for my ears, let alone my body. Although it’s a fair step up in vibe and feel than the other Act 1 tracks, it segues fittingly into the more banger-laden Act 2.
Act 2: Gray
Addressing prevalent social issues and demons that plague modern society is something Denzel has never shied away from and this takes centre stage on ‘TA13OO‘, particularly on lead single ‘Clout Cobain‘ as Zeltron waxes lyrical about the ‘clout’ so many artists will stoop to questioning levels & endeavours to achieve and/or maintain. ‘Mad I Got It‘ is an alternating example, as Denzel verses atop riveting production that strings along an oriental floating vibe about people’s perceived jealousy towards his ascending levels of fame and all that comes with ascertaining such status. The final verse comes from the opposing perspective, essentially justifying what leads someone to being so ‘mad he got it’, from lack of opportunities in poverty-stricken life to uncaring governments and an overarching survivalist nature.
‘Switch It Up‘ locates Denzel in the more familiar pocket of street injustice accounts, illustrated with a menacing beat. Featuring a super-catchy hook and another couple of innovative flows, by this point into the album it is quite blatant ‘TA13OO‘ is an unrelenting beast out on a path of decimation.
‘Sirens‘ delivers a fantastic feature from Dreamville’s J.I.D. (certainly the standout guest spot on the album, so good in fact that Denzel admitted he had to pen another verse after being astounded by the feature) who sneakily creeps along the beat in his understated tone that yin-yangs in comparison to Denzel‘s by way of adding great depth to the track.
Act 3: Dark
The concluding section is all-out war and the dreamy and quaint Denzel of Act 1 seems distant as vicious snarling dominates the final run of tracks: Zeltron has it “feeling like a horror movie” as he proclaims at the onset of ‘The Blackest Balloon‘, leaving you fearing for your speakers and feeling like he will straight up suddenly appear and slap you if you so much as dare to pause the sorcery – in a good way, of course. Relating to his candid verse on ‘Alakazam‘ I mentioned at the onset of this review, the chorus here exclaims “Ooh, ooh, why my brother callin’ to me?” showing the trauma is far from forgotten and still a prevalent factor in his mind.
‘Percs‘ calls out the brainless trends that are rife in the rap game today to a deteriorating effect. A quick display of Denzel‘s wit and comic book love, he states how powerful he is when armed then plays on the word bringing attention to the sad and ongoing nature of police profiling: “I be the judge like Dredd, police judge my dreads” before launching into unapologetic open-fire on the damaging promotion of drug use and mumble rapping in such a true, savage and comedic fashion:
“With these dumbass n****s, and they don’t say shit
Sound like ‘Durr, durr, durr’, you like ‘Oh, that’s lit'”
‘Vengeance‘ and ‘Black Metal Terrorist‘ are the only predictable instances, solely in terms of how they sound exactly as the titles suggest they will – aggrieved, forbidding and metallic. The albums final two stops showcase focused raging Denzel exuberance and ‘Black Metal Terrorist‘ – is such a high-octane and rabid track in the verses you are truly grateful for a breather when he lets up at the modestly stated “finish ’em Zel, finish em Zel” hook – even features a touch of metal vocal screaming tastily layered in the background at a couple of points.
My Art isn’t for EVERYONE it’s for ANYONE
— ZXLTRXN (@denzelcurry) July 25, 2018
– this is true of ‘TA13OO‘ which finds strength in its accessibility – this will lure new supporters aplenty to Mr Curry’s lair while simultaneously pleasing the existing fans (I am an existing fan and am certainly pleased) – core fans included.
The experimentation exhibited by Denzel is commendable and proves to be completely worthwhile as it ALL comes off superbly, to culminate in a well-rounded project that leaves an impression upon you and with things to reflect upon. This sees ‘TA13OO‘ stamp its prowess as a significant body of work, that as the title suggests addresses a plethora of taboo subjects. Combine this with the execution that includes a host of venom-laced flows, killer hooks that find many a nesting space in your head and the rich, sumptuous production and you have quite the sizeable beast. The biggest challenge presented by ‘TA13OO‘ comes in the form of trying to decide which Act is my favourite, as each standalone emphatically; this says alot about the overall quality of the project – I don’t think there is a faulty moment anywhere – this is what they call raising the bar.
After much rumination on any possible reason why I cannot give this album a 10 and coming up with nothing, I relayed this to my wise and profound girlfriend who emphatically proclaimed “well if he deserves a 10 then a 10 he shall receive“. These are simple, yet true words and I do indeed find the efforts of Mr. Curry deserving a 10, and thus have awarded my first perfect score!
‘TA13OO’ is available everywhere now and you can get tickets for Denzel‘s European tour which includes five UK dates here.