'I want my shit to sound different every time. You either take that to the bank or don't mess with me'
Denzel Curry has crammed a lot into his 22 years. The Floridian rapper has already released a series of mixtapes, two albums and two EPs, as well as touring around the world. His debut album ‘Nostalgic 64′, which dropped when he was just 18, was an accomplished debut that combined ’90s rap with a modern trap sound, and dark social commentary with pop culture references. He followed this with the ’32 Zel/Planet Shrooms’ double EP in 2014 that explored a more psychedelic sound. Across both projects he introduced numerous different personalities such as Raven X Miyagi, Aquarius Killa and Denny Cascade, highlighting a young mind brimming with creativity that refused to be nailed down to a traditional sound.
Last year, Denzel Curry released, ‘Imperial’, his second independent studio album, that took his sound to a heavier place. It’s explosive, confident and Curry raps like a man possessed. It led to a place alongside lil Uzi Vert, Desiigner, 21 Savage and lil Yachty on the XXL Freshman list 2016. Curry also became known for his wild live shows. His Lovebox 2016 set was a weekend highlight and a Jazz Cafe headline performance last December was a rowdy late contender for gig of the year. At a show in Tennessee he fell from the ceiling, through the floor and into a bathroom. He got up, performed ‘Ultimate’ and left in an ambulance.
This all led to a distribution deal with Loma Vista Records to release his upcoming third album, ‘Taboo’, although despite signing Curry has still maintained his independence. “I still got my masters and my creative control,” he told me. “It’s just they have the system and backing. They’re really supportive and do things I can’t do, or at least it would take me a long time to do.” After briefly becoming disillusioned with music at the start of this year, Curry released the ’13’ EP, characterised by dark, industrial beats and distorted vocals. In many ways it seemed like a rejection of the mainstream that ‘Imperial’ had thrust him into, with Curry viciously delivering lines like, “Denzel, why you had to make bloodshed? Cause a fuck nigga fucked with the ultimate.”
Since then Curry has seemed revitalised, releasing ‘Skywalker’, the first official single from his forthcoming third album ‘Taboo’. ‘Skywalker’ sees Curry exploring a more melodic sound and singing as well as delivering the tight raps that his fans know and love. Next month Curry will be the main support on Run The Jewels U.S. tour and he returns to the UK in November to headline the Village Underground.
I spoke to Curry on the phone last week to talk through the last 12 months and his plans for Taboo.
The last time we spoke was after your Lovebox set. We chatted how ‘Imperial’’s Ultimate Denzel Curry was a combination of your previous personalities. Since then you’ve said you’re in Ultimate Omega Mode, what’s changed?
That was like when I dyed my hair blonde and I was really into working out, that was Ultimate Omega Mode. I was just going in, you feel me? Ultimate Omega Mode was my super saiyan.
On ’13’ you seemed to be exorcising a lot of dark stuff. Did it help you clear your mind to work on ‘Taboo’?
Yeah, it really did. I was so, ‘ahh, I need to do Taboo, I need to get it done!’ I felt like I wasn’t dropping anything. Some of those tracks are old, some of those tracks are new. The newer tracks were ‘Hate Government’, ‘Zeltron’ and ‘Heartless’, the other ones were old. ‘Bloodshed’ was from early ’17, ‘Equalizer’ was from ’16. I recorded that the same night I recorded ‘Skywalker’.