Last year Denzel Curry put out an album that seemed sonically and conceptually to be his magnum opus, or at least intended so. “TA1300” or “Taboo” discusses paranoia, fear, hatred, and a whole host of truly dark things that are seen as “taboo” in the rap game. This was a bold project that pushed Curry beyond the status as a meme maker that “Ultimate” brought him.
However, it didn’t really seem like him. It was quite inventive to bring such deep subject matter to a trap album but the high concept bars didn’t always pair well with Denzel’s aggressive flow. That’s my opinion anyway. When I listen to Kendrick Lamar, I feel inspired; when I listen to Denzel Curry I feel like fighting (he makes great music for workouts).
After the buzz of “TA1300” had come and gone, Curry and his team sat down and discussed the direction they would take next. “Let’s make some hard stuff” Curry said. And so they went into the studio and pumped out some of the hardest bangers Miami has ever seen. The album: ZUU
“RICKY” is a tribute to Denzel’s father, and a heartfelt one at that. “Ricky used to take me to my first shows ever” ‘Zel raps. Aside from the surprisingly loving message of the song it oozes charisma. Bouncing 808s and a distorted synth line accompanied by freestyles bars set this song apart as one of those once in a lifetime tracks that come to be from a spark of studio energy that flares into an uncontrollable blaze.
This song is followed up by “WISH”, a more subdued offering. It features a fairly cookie-cutter hook and verse from Denzel, but does accomplish the goal of featuring Miami’s little known Kiddo Marv, who absolutely murders his verse when the time comes.
In fact, this entire album is a who’s who of South Florida rappers, from the well known, to those whose popularity is regional at best. From Kiddo Marv, Ice Billion Berg, Sam Sneak, and Playthatboizay, to Carol City alum Rock Ross.
I do take some issue with the track “Shake88” because as infectious as the hook is, Denzel made the bizarre decision to put a verse from the perspective of a woman in the hands of a male rapper. It doesn’t take away from the listenability of the song but we are living in the year of the Female Rapper. Rico Nasty, Cardi B and Tierra Whack are on fire right now and any one of them would have raised the value of this song, and this album tremendously with their presence. I’m still holding out hope for a Megan Thee Stallion remix.
As it is, ZUU isn’t perfect, it’s not extremely deep and it isn’t going to change the rap game forever. It is however a fun, carefree summer drive through downtown Miami with the radio blasting.