Denzel Curry- TA13OO Review
(By: Thomas Rodriguez)
Denzel Curry puts his inner demons on display for the whole world to see on the circus of TA13OO.
Fact: South Florida rap is one of the biggest waves in today’s modern hip hop scene. Distorted bass, short songs, viral hooks, hoes and hood rat activities: these are just a few of the things being pushed forward in the mainstream by the So Flo sound coming from the likes of Lil Pump, SmokePurpp, $ki Mask The Slump God, and several more. These up and coming rappers have made Miami more than just DJ Khaled and Rick Ross’s playground, gaining plenty of notoriety for some of the most viral singles of the past few years. While these new guys have been successful, lots of critics have pointed toward the likes of “Gucci Gang” and said that this new sound doesn’t bring lyrical substance to the table.
Enter Carol City’s own, Denzel Curry.
Curry (known for his rapid fire flow, solid writing, dark as hell production, and iconic hairdo) has been one of the more slept on powers in the rap community, always bubbling underneath the surface of the mainstream but never reaching a true breakthrough. TA13OO (or TABOO), his most recent project, has been one of the most anticipated projects of the year for me, however. Curry’s past work on projects like Imperial and 13 brought a mix of grimy South Floridian beats and flows that just begged to be noticed more. Thankfully, TA13OO did more than just be good enough to be noticed; it brought an excellent mix of darkness, self awareness, and dope production.
If you look at the grisly cover art for TA13OO, you’ll be surprised it isn’t all doom and gloom. Just most of it is. The album is a conceptual affair, being divided into three acts titled light, gray, and dark. The sounds coming from each side match their colors pretty well: Light has a more melodic, sweet sound; Dark has a nasty, loud sound that sends shockwaves down to your toes; Gray is a balance of relative calm and raw aggression. It’s interesting to see Denzel step out of his usual comfort zone on the light side, as he rides these softer beats extremely well on tracks like “BLACK BALLOONS” and “TABOO”, especially with some surprisingly well done singing on their hooks. It’s a nice introduction to Curry’s rapping and dark subject matter, an appetizer loaded with thoughtful lyrics on pain and suffering experienced by him and others through clever metaphors and a solid feature from GoldLink. “CASH MANIAC” may have a pretty bland performance from Curry on the mic, but the funky grooves of the track are still nice as background noise.
Just as you’re thinking TA13OO may be a mellow album, Curry gives a surprise one-two punch that leaves you breathless on the concrete in the form of “SUMO” and “SUPER SAIYAN SUPERMAN”. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment to reference Chowder and Dragon Ball Z and still have an amazing sense of danger and power over the listener. Curry pulls off this murderous yet humorous vibe throughout the project, such as with his animated vocal inflections on “Switch It Up”, bringing a sense of real connection between the light and dark side of Curry’s mind as he brags about being the best in the game while dissecting his inner turmoils throughout the song. The light/dark dichotomy blends throughout the project in a way that isn’t confusing, but gives TA13OO layers that you won’t normally find in a typical rap project.
As you continue down the tracklist of TA13OO, you’ll realize that Curry is on a water park slide going straight into hell, and he’s taking us with him. This becomes more and more apparent towards the end of the album, as he goes from making some of the most topical and poignant tracks in his career, the emotionally political “SIRENS” and fame analyzing “CLOUT COBAIN”, to reveling in much darker things than making fun of the deceased Nirvana singer. Curry turns absolutely animalistic on both the mic and beats with “THE BLACKEST BALLOON”, with a hook that may just be one of the most catchy I’ve heard all year, rapping about feeling like a horror movie and hearing his dead brother calling to him in the same lines. It’s powerful, nasty, and an absolute ear worm.
After this, Curry becomes more and more deranged as the Dark Act of the album continues, touting his untapped potential on the equally hard hitting “PERCS” and “VENGEANCE”. On the latter, Curry and his guests JPEGMAFIA and ZillaKami take turns seeing who can be the most demonic, and the result is easily the best rapped song on the project. The album takes no time giving you a Mortal Kombat-esque fatality with “BLACK METAL TERRORIST”, where Curry seemingly just loses it and finishes you off with a declaration of greatness that is accompanied by a bass shattering beat that’ll make you replace your car’s subwoofers after a few plays.
TA13OO accomplished a lot of things in its 43 minutes of runtime. It proved to many that South Florida rap can go beyond a viral single or hook, and bring lyrical magic alongside banging beats. It proved that Curry is not running out of steam anytime soon, and can still write an amazing hook, verses, and go out of his comfort zone while still being on top of his game. Sure, a misfire or two may be found here or there, either with a clunky hook like on “MAD I GOT IT” or on some average line here or there, but TA13OO is a plunge straight into the hellish circus that is Denzel Curry’s life, and I’ll gladly take a visit there again. This is a “SofloSound” I can get behind.
Final Score 9.2/10
Tracks to Save: “BLACK BALLOONS”, “SUMO”, “SWITCH IT UP”, “SIRENS”, “CLOUT COBAIN”, “THE BLACKEST BALLOON”, “VENGEANCE”
Tracks to Skip: “CASH MANIAC”
Listen to TA13OO here!
What did you think about this album? Any comments or criticism? Comment down below and let me know; I’d love to hear what you think!
Check out my other reviews below!