Article by Andrés Alvarado
Nobody is perfect. Pretty sure we could collectively agree on that. Nonetheless, what elevates one human being to higher pedestals in the view of the masses is his or her ability to roll with the punches, and come out on top. Successfully tackling relatable topics is one heck of a drug to fans — isn’t that how trends of baggy jeans, flannel shirts, or goth makeup began? Plainly stated, give the listener unadulterated engaging content and watch the fandom and emulations begin. It’s here where we arrive at Denzel Curry and his third full length release, TA13OO. At only 23 years of age, this Floridian rapper has slowly and progressively reached higher peaks to his artistic expression since his 2013, Nostalgic 64, debut. This spire-like advancement has catapulted Curry to newer and exciting heights. The man’s ability to delve into topics of importance without losing that fuck-off braggadocious tonality has made Curry a star. In a hip-hop world dominated by the Kendrick Lamars and Kanye Wests of the world, Denzel Curry has arrived with TA13OO — and looks to cement a place at the top.
Curry has described TA13OO as a three-segment album composed of the “Light,” “Gray,” and “Black.” The album artwork surely correlates to this descriptor, but it’s the deeper understanding of this illustration that makes Curry come across as downright “real.” The complex thought that man struggles everyday to balance out the darker and brighter ends of his mind to meet somewhere in the middle and achieve social acceptance is formidable for most. Not to Curry though, he wants to be spotlight it all, open-book style, whether you like it or not. Shattering taboos is the name of the game.
Album lead single “Clout Cobain//Clout Co13a1n” is a mid-tempo trap gem that addresses the daily rat-race for fame through social media, addiction crisis, and the haters the game entails. Curry, widely known as a SoundCloud rapper, comprehends the mind-fucks laid ahead for those searching of stardom and clout in the age of internet. This lead banger epilogues the real-world consequences to chasing those pretend dreams of celebrity. Yes, fame and fortune can become realities through clout, but that feign sense of importance and drug abuse can drive a person into mental exhaustion or torture. In similar fashion, namesake anthem “Taboo//Ta13oo” is also a walk on the dark side of the mind of Curry. This track digs a little deeper, plays a little more personal and lament-riddled. Raps Denzel: “Gorgeous beautiful taboo // always with a lot on her mind // You giving me all of your stories // in the littlest amount of time // You loving me is forbidden // loving you back is a crime // I wrote this poem for you // forever remain in my rhymes,” to a certain influential somebody in his world. While the exact person behind the inspired verse remains a mystery, the painted picture is all too stained of pain and sorrow. This is personal turmoil morphed into art. This is how Curry uses TA13OO to flip the script from being just another rapper into a legitimate well-rounded lyricist.
Among the record’s stronger tracks we also find the rough-ridin’ “Percs//Percz,” Cypress Hill-esque chorused “Vengeance,” the harmoniously gloomy “Switch It Up//Zwitch 1t Up,” fun-rhyming “Cash Maniac//Cazh Man1ac,” and rowdy effort-closing thumper “Black Metal Terrorist//13MT.” Truth be told, TA13OO is quite a crowning jewel in the Curry discography. It’s onerous to pinpoint any one track as weak; however, the album suffers a bit from its so-called concept. At no listening stage does the audience truly shuffle into moods of light, gray or black. TA13OO stands tall on its own, the compartmentalization is unnecessary and unperceived. However, if this the biggest complaint, is there really any issue?
Frankly, Hip-Hop has seen many pioneers over the years: wordsmiths like Tupac and Nas, innovators like the aforementioned Kany West, smooth operators like Snoop Dogg, behind-the-scenes wizards like Dre and Puff, rapid-fire maestros like Busta Rhymes, and game-changers like Eminem, Biggie Smalls or Kendrick Lamar. Nonetheless, there’s always space for exciting new talent, and as of right now, we’re placing a big bet on Denzel Curry. Whether you consider Curry part of the rap game, trap, hip-hip, or any other derivative, the man is on fire. He is to-the-core impressive on TA13OO. Cheers!
Album Score: 9/10 – Key Tracks: “Clout Cobain,” “Percs,” “Taboo,” and “Switch It Up.”