Denzel Curry proves how much you can do with SoundCloud rap on ‘Vengeance’
Witnessing the explosion of SoundCloud-bred rap into the mainstream has been a weird mix of disappointing but intriguing, disheartening but surprising at the same time. To my mind, Florida’s DENZEL CURRY ranks somewhere up there with LIL UZI VERT and 21 SAVAGE in terms of just how surprising it’s been to watch actually sustainable careers, built from talent and promise, burgeon out of this explosion. But even amongst that esteemed company, Curry brings an unparalleled technicality, lyricism and sense of ambition to the SoundCloud rap form, as murkily defined and contested as the genre may be. He’s a musician who seems genuinely interested in substantively delving into the darker recesses of humanity through his artistry, rather than trading this artistry out for the superficial shock tactics of blown-out production and one-minute-runtimes, as some of his peers in the South Florida scene would prefer to do.
Curry’s latest exploration is his triptych third studio album, TA13OO, his best and most stylistically diverse work yet. Split across character perspectives and three acts, TA13OO uses its broad canvas to touch on topics ranging from the 2016 presidential election, fame, revenge, sexual assault, drug dependencies, the current state of internet hip hop and Curry’s personal history.
New single, ‘Vengeance’ featuring ZILLAKAMI the criminally slept-upon JPEGMAFIA, arrives as the penultimate track on TA13OO, as part of the darkest act of Curry’s trilogy. Appropriately, Curry takes it back to his roots as a SoundCloud rapper, in stark contrast to lighter sounds that open the album. A scuzzy, distorted beat and menacing keys provide the sonic background for Curry, JPEG and ZillaKami to deliver a barrage of manic, possessed horrorcore-leaning verses that catalogue their most violent thoughts and revenge fantasies against their enemies. One particular section sees Curry detailing how he would take said enemy’s body, chop them up, put the assorted parts in a bag, throw that bag into a batch of concrete, and then spread the concrete throughout the entire city. It’s terrifying, sure, but it also kind of makes the trio sound like a band of supervillians – and the visuals, directed by ‘Clout Cobain’ director ZEV DEANS, knows it, matching the track’s heightened, almost comically ridiculous, violence with a video game and PC-bang inspired clip that follows Denzel and co. through a trippy out of body experience in a seedy underworld.
It’s a lot to take in all at once – but it’s never so much that you could ever lose sight of the fact that, more than anything, Curry continues to prove that you can work within this form of SoundCloud rap without sacrificing substance and meaning and intelligence.
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