Ah yes, the return of one Denzel Curry, one whose name is pronounced the way it is. Anyway, while Denzel hasn’t been slouching on the music front (having released the Unlocked EP and a follow-up of remixes back in 2020 and 2021 respectively), it’s been a few years since we heard album Denzel, and we finally have some new album Denzel.
Granted, we were expecting an album from him soon when he dropped some singles beforehand with “Walkin'” & “Zatoichi,” but the release date was unknown until the official announcement, which was a week before release. We saw the track list with production coming from JPEGMafia, Kenny Beats, DJ Khalil, Thundercat and based off those singles, it sounded like he would be going into a different direction than the usual harder stuff we get from him.
So…. does this album melt my eyez and see into the future?
I saw the future, and it looks like I might have this on my Top Albums of 2022, because this was straight heat. First thing you’ll notice about this album is the production and how it’s different than past Denzel projects. It’s more melodic, jazzy, experimental in areas, which makes sense considering a while back he tweeted that he didn’t feel the same rapping anymore, so he’s trying to reinvent his sound, and that’s not a bad thing.
“Melt Session #1” has him going in a train of thought on what fame and fortune has brought him, from the many indulgences and vices to the revelations of some ugly truths: from feeling guilty of the way he’s treated women to the point of contemplating suicide, to the fact he added that he was touched as a child. Yeah, this is some revealing and vulnerable stuff we’re dealing with, and he got Robert Glasper doing production on here with the soulful piano and background vocals.
Dealt with thoughts of suicide, women I’ve objectified
Couldn’t see it through my eyes so for that, I apologize
I’m just hypnotized, working hard to empathize
Strung out on love addiction and groupies when souls collide
I’ve been this way since the day I turned six
I’ve been touched before, way before I touched my—
I’ll get the singles out of the way quick: “Walkin'” has the traditional hip-hop transitioning into skeletal trap sound with Denzel going on about the struggles of life and capitalism (because we know capitalism is a bitch). “Zatoichi” with Slowthai was a definite highlight of mine during the singles rollout because of the drum ‘n bass/breakbeat inspired production and the lyrical theme revolving around Zatoichi: the blind swordman who is the longest running action character in modern Japanese media. There’s “Troubles” where him and T-Pain reflect on their everyday struggles and how they don’t just vanish quick when they want to.
I’m Zatoichi leadin’ the blind, pressure get applied
They cut my niggas down in their prime, callin’ Father Time
To turn back all the clocks but he still stuck on another line
I tried to crack a smile and still a frown follows right behind
Excruciating pain like Bane breakin’ Bruce Wayne’s spine
“John Wayne” handles the subject matter of gun violence and culture, especially in the last few years, referencing John Wayne since he was an influence on gun culture with how he handles his guns. You’ll notice that the end of the track has a Discord ping notification thrown in there (Why, yes, JPEGMafia produced this track). “The Last” reflects on the racial issues in America including institutional racism, continuing the presentation of rough subject matter noticed on here. Since I mentioned suicide as a topic (brought up on the intro track), it appears again in “Mental” along with a few references of bebop, either being the music (the style of jazz) or a slight reference of Cowboy Bebop. It also features some mesmerizing vocalization from Bridget Perez (who shows up on 4 other tracks) and a spoken word outro from slam poet Saul Williams.
These are the only reasons why I stay lowkey
And I knew this world was shitty when we lost Kobe
Young man, black man, I’m a negro
World had to heal, now the world need growth
Cops killin’ blacks when the whites do the most
And your so-called revolution ain’t nothin’ but a post
Then we get to the one posse cut of the album “Ain’t No Way” featuring 6LACK, Jasiah, Rico Nasty and JID and this joint does bump in the whip pretty hard. In fact, it’s one of the few tracks that differs slightly from the rest of the album in production. As for the features themselves: RIco Nasty kills it on her verse as well as JID, but 6LACK and Jasiah mostly do chorus work with Buddy doing the outro.
“X-Wing” has Denzel on a trap beat, and even though I might have said this before, Denzel raps better on these kinds of beats than most popular rappers have been. The track delves into the hate/jealously you get from your success and consumer culture/trends. The following track “Angelz” delves into the aforementioned subject matters but now with some angelic female vocals and Karriem Riggins accompanying on the production.
All these beats go dumb in the stereo
But I’m just too smart for the radio
Masked up like a young Rey Mysterio
Mask off when I’m back in the studio
Mac ain’t make it to twenty-seven
Pac ain’t make it to twenty-six
Big’ ain’t make it to twenty-five
It’s only right that I gotta get rich
Cut niggas off and I curse niggas out
Since I mentioned Thundercat on the production, the track “The Smell of Death” is the one track I was looking forward to the most, but this is more of a short interludem and I hate that it’s so short because it’s one of my favorites and it left me begging for more. “Sanjuro” has him going off on his experiences in Florida along with fellow Floridian rapper 454, and the title does reference an Akira Kurosawa film, along with another reference being “R.I.P to King Geedorah”… IYKYK. Finally, the album concludes with “The Ills” that has this classy hip-hop piano and boombap-inspired production from Dot Da Genius and Noah Goldstein, with lyrics all about his mental health and emotional state, especially when it comes to his process in rapping.
This album is probably his most mature to date, with a beat selection radically different than previous efforts that’s more melodic and focused on hip-hop, jazz, bebop, and some slower production save for a few tracks on there. Additionally, Denzel opening up with his vulnerable side and mental health does make you relate to him if you’ve suffered mental health issues, which are becoming more aware of today. This album continues to showcase Denzel’s skills as a rapper and how he’s one of the best and most interesting rappers to date.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy it. I see the future and yep, this is going to be on my list at the end of the year.
MELT MY EYEZ, SEE YOUR FUTURE is on PH and Loma Vista Recordings is available on CD, LP, cassette, digital download and on streaming services.