June 9, 2017

denzel

Nitish Pahwa always drops fresh #content on Soundcloud.

Denzel Curry has always had an assertive, combative approach to his rapping, from his formative Raider Klan days to last year’s Imperial. Whether relating tragic stories from his Carol City neighborhood (“Zone 3”) or affirming his strength and position in the game (“Zenith”), he can bring a haywire, arm-flailing urgency to his music and forcefully hold your attention and compliance. Yet as he notes, that’s not something to box him in by—he can tone down his decibels and still keep you in his grip. And what’s more, he’s no longer just representing his home in Carol City—Curry seems to have bigger prospects in mind. 

Take his two SoundCloud demos from last month, which focus his energy and confidence in a more militaristic direction. The first one, “Hate Government,” starts off with a sample of Imperial’s “ULT.” The crowd chants the song’s title before giving way to static, piercing distortion, growling bass, and a furor of charged lyrics (“Anti-American, I’m pro-Assata”). He’s on his “hate government shit.” The second demo, “Equalizer” (which Curry claims was inspired by Germany) contains similarly anarchic lyrics rapped in gruff, hoarse tone over a sparse, bass-heavy beat (“I got the shit that could take out New York / I do not fuck with the population”).

Curry is more self-assured than ever, proclaiming himself a strapped-up hybrid of Attila the Hun and Bishop Magic Don Juan, pledging his deeds and loyalty to the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti. But in these demos, he also sounds less like the spirited agitator of “Ultimate” and more a cunning vigilante anticipating his imminent takeover.

If these particular songs are indicative of a broader theme, Curry may be assuming a more openly political stance in his future work—a course that makes sense considering his reverence of Tupac. Curry has always had a knack for vividly rendering tales of gang violence, drug deals, and police brutality, but rarely has his purview extended beyond Miami. Perhaps now, with an increased profile from Imperial’s success, he’s ready to take on the issues of the entire suffering nation. Or maybe he’s been studying The Anarchist Cookbook to frequent spins of Me Against the World.

Either way, with the amount of times he’s shared the demos on Twitter, it’s likely he’s gunning for a whole project as dark, menacing, and vindictive as these two songs. The two demos seem to be promotions for his upcoming album, which may have something to do with the number 13—it appears on the cover art for both “Hate Government” and “Equalizer,” plus his upcoming European tour is called “The Life of 13.” On his social media, Curry has also made repeated references to Zeltron, the telepathic dual-livered species from the Star Wars universe.

The project may not be completely defined yet, but it will hopefully be just as charged and exciting as his previous tapes. And if it’s an entire album on his “hate government shit,” there’s all the more reason to anticipate it.