Denzel Curry’s fourth studio album, 2019’s ‘ZUU’, was full of high-octane mosh-pit classics that sounded like the sticky heat of a summer in his native Florida. For album five, he’s opted for a more mellow aural experience. The 27-year-old spitter has always been able to deliver shit-hot verses, expertly using his deep husk to create unselfconsciously unique performances, but now he’s down for something a little slower.
Dropping his typical high-octane basslines and zippy 808s for smoother, jazzier and more lo-fi brand of nostalgic hip-hop, this album transports you back to the genre’s golden years. Curry flexes his ability to flow and rhyme meticulously lines that explode your mind, his gruff delivery similar to that of RZA or even Busta Rhymes. On ‘Ain’t No Way’, he bars up with hip-hop’s underdog crooner 6lack, crazy spitter Rico Nasty and flawless rhymer J.I.D. Curry takes the backseat to let these formidable rappers shine before hypnotising you with his verse: “I can turn your sympathises to symphonies / N***as can send you up the same day that you send for me”.
This is the rapper’s most experimental work since his 2018 breakthrough double album ‘TA13OO’. Curry selects loopy instrumentals to help him create ethereal and weightless atmospheres for three-and-a-half minutes at a time. ‘X Wing’ perfectly demonstrates this: here he showcases a more subdued and vulnerable version of himself over fluttery pianos and autotuned croons. But the knockout track has to be the anime-inspired ‘Zatoichi’, whose skippy basslines are perhaps inspired by UK drum-and-bass head PinkPantheress‘s rise on TikTok. With its chorus adorned by Slowthai‘s distorted yelp, Curry strides confidently over this track: “I’m Zatoichi leading the blind / Pressure get applied”.
Lately, in hip-hop, we’ve seen stars switching up their typical styles (see JPEGMafia’s wacky ‘LP!’ and the laidback coolness of Vince Staples’ self-titled fourth album), and it’s all been about versatility. Well, ‘MELT MY EYEZ SEE YOUR FUTURE’ finds Curry enjoying his more chill moment, delivering reinvented, modern sounds – but still harking back to when hip-hop was all about straight bars in the ‘90s.
It’s hard to revamp your sound with every project, but Denzel Curry is fast becoming the Renaissance man of Southern hip-hop, always 10 steps ahead of the game. For the fifth time – and in a different way than we might have expected – Denzel Curry has provided a priceless sense of self-discovery as he explores his countless facets.
Record label: Loma Vista Recordings
Release date: March 25th