Review Summary: Denzel Curry continues his ascent to stardom with a banger-filled tribute to the city of Miami.
Last July's TA1300
looks like it could end up going down as the project that launched Denzel Curry into stardom. By adding more conscious, soulful influences to his arsenal without losing the raw edge that gained him a cult following in the hardcore/industrial hip-hop community, the 24-year old received the most critical acclaim and commercial success of his career thus far. This wave of buzz helped Curry land slots on several high-profile US festivals (Lollapalooza, Governor's Ball, Boston Calling) as well as serve as the opener on pop's latest megastar Billie Eilish's current headlining tour, which should introduce a ton of new audiences to the distinct stylings of the Black Metal Terrorist. Curry kicks the traction he's built up over the last 10 months into warp speed with his latest LP ZUU
, a fiery, efficient collection of trunk-knocking trap anthems that are begging to be played at a high volume all summer long.
was a dark, deeply personal record that covered a lot of different musical and thematic ground, ZUU
is a collection of bangers from front to back that strictly serves as a nostalgic love letter to Curry's hometown of Miami. Even when this 29-minute ragefest explores the darker side of Curry's upbringing in Carol City ("We carry hollow tips 'cause it reflects what's in my soul" on album closer "P.A.T" was the most poignant of all), ZUU is largely driven by a sense of vibrancy and fondness for what the city and its music means to him. As confident of a performer as he's been since the days of Nostalgic 64
, he's arguably never sounder more at ease then he does creating hooky, energetic tracks behind speaker-rattling bass, distorted vocal samples and drum machines that hit like a cannonball. These club-ready tunes that gracefully combine real life grit with larger-than-life playfulness is what Curry grew up on in America's most underrated hip-hop hub, and it's evident when listening to this record that honoring and adding to South Florida's rich history was a big deal to him.
Adding to the laid-back party atmosphere of this record is the loose composition style it utilizes. ZUU
comes together in such an organic manner that it feels like it was crafted in real time on a stoop or a bus going to/from work or school instead of a recording studio. How did Curry achieve that seemingly spontaneous feel? By freestyling the whole damn album. That's right, every bar on here came to him once the red light turned on. To be honest, that is borderline unfathomable to me. The tremendous collection of hard-hitting beats he had to work with may have helped kickstart the creative juices, but making every verse sound as tight as something that was pre-written is just silly and adds yet another item to the long list of reasons why Curry is so good at what he does.
is a highly enjoyable listen that is yet another impressive showcase for Curry's exceptional mic skills and rare dynamism. There's seemingly no style within the hip-hop scene that he's unwilling to try his hand at, and that fearlessness and success when it comes to experimentation makes him a very exciting artist to follow. If he wasn't already in the conversation before last summer, the powerhouse, polar opposite combo of TA1300
should be enough to solidify his case to be considered one of the best rappers in the game right now.