Every subgenre needs a star and Miami rapper Denzel Curry was one of the first for the Soundcloud boom.
A growing popularity among the music’s Indie scene helped Curry and some of his fellow South Florida rappers, manage to gain success after Curry broke out on Vine with his hit single “Ultimate.”
Curry lagged behind some of the artists who rode his coattails in as the last decade ended. Curry was always a better artist than his contemporaries, had more critical acclaim, but struggled to get popularity and radio hits.
But now, Curry has returned to reclaim his place as the head of the pack.
With the Soundcloud era becoming a thing of the past, Curry leaves his past styles in the rearview. Departing from past producers FnZ and Ronnie J, this is Curry’s most toned-down project yet.
“Ta13oo” displayed the versatility Curry has to thrive in calmer moments, but he was still unwilling to leave the safety net of his SpaceGhostPurpp influences; for every introspective song, a punk-infused banger was never far behind.
Outside of “Sanjuro,” “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” keeps the focus on Curry and Curry’s message alone. The grimey, spacey, sample-heavy beats are reminiscent of Mac Miller and Earl Sweatshirt’s early style of production work.
Curry’s instrumentals may have changed, but the rapper’s delivery is still immaculate. Curry mastered his fast-rap style years ago, but the versatility of his delivery is improved from past projects.
Other rappers (namely Eminem) forget that rapping fast is just a gimmick if you have nothing to say and the “Clout Cobain” rapper’s delivery revs like a chainsaw while never losing clarity.
The first single, “Walkin” has one of the best beat flips Curry has ever rapped over. As one of the first tracks, it’s also an incredible warm-up to prepare the listener for the themes of depression and survivor’s guilt that the rest of the project features.
“John Wayne,” produced by fellow indie rapper JPEGMafia, further details Curry’s struggle with his past life growing up in Carol City, mixing perfect writing with some truly bleak subject matter.
Even the “fun” tracks are heavy in lyrical content.
“Troubles” featuring T-Pain may be catchy but the track focuses heavily on poverty. Tracks like “Zatoichi” and “Ain’t No Way” show Curry’s growth in sticking with the project’s themes and not just having fun with the features.
But a Denzel Curry album is never complete without a smorgasbord of nerdy references to keep things from getting too dark.
Homages to old westerns and Japanese samurai films are featured heavily, as is Curry’s love of “Naruto,” Rey Mysterio and Batman’s many villains. Upped for “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” however is Curry’s musical shoutouts.
The rapper’s recent 27th birthday and the infamous stigma of that age for celebrities appear to be on his mind. Curry’s friend, XXXTentacion the controversial deceased rapper, is mentioned several times as a reference point for dying young. On the track “X-Wing,” Curry counts down the age of death of rap legends Mac Miller, 2Pac and Biggie Smalls till only the 27-year-old is left.
“Melt My Eyez See Your Future” is Curry’s strongest project to date. “Ta13oo” and the heavily Miami inspired “Zuu” are both two of the best hip-hop albums released in their years, but both feel hollow in comparison.
Trading his youthful energy for insight and reflection was the best choice the up-and-coming star could have made and Curry’s sixth album should be a strong contender for 2022’s album of the year.