Album Review: Denzel Curry – Ta13oo

Friday, July 27, 2018

As of late, a new sub-genre called ‘goth rap’ has emerged in hip-hop — with hip-hop artists finding solace in the likes of Marilyn Manson, hardcore rock and the romanticism of gothic culture. Though I wouldn’t deem Denzel Curry’s new album Ta13oo as ‘goth rap’ by any means, it’s obvious he has gathered inspiration from the darkness the sub-genre offers. Curry’s latest offering sounds like something Stephen King would create if he was tasked with creating a hip-hop album — and if Edgar Allan Poe or Charles Baudelaire were teens or millennials in their twenties in 2018, they would be Denzel Curry’s biggest fans.

Instead of rolling out his album as a whole, Curry has spent the past three days revealing his album in three parts — ‘Light’, ‘Grey’ and ‘Dark’. This method of delivery is genius by Curry, as it has allowed fans to digest the three contrasting parts, ensuring that they can distinctly hear what he’s trying to achieve.

ACT I: LIGHT
Curry’s first part is dissimilar from what the rest of the album has to offer. It features the drear topics which appear across the album but backed by shimmery and lush production.

The album’s intro ‘Taboo | Ta13oo’ opens with lyrics such as “welcome to the darkest side of taboo” acting as a warning of what’s impending. However, this warning is backed by production that’s perfect for cruising around in the car. The lyrics are desolate — he’s discussing a female, but also mentions the abuse and molestation the said female has experienced in her past. The contrast between the airy production and his contemplative lyrics is eerie and thought-provoking. ‘Black Balloons | 13lack 13alloonz’, which features Twelve'len & Goldlink, is similar in the way it differentiates between spacey production and heavy lyricism. Inspired by the film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, the black balloon is meant to represent darkness and release. When the balloon bursts it will “be the day pain stops”. ‘Cash Maniac | Cazh Man1ac’ represents the lighter aspects of Curry’s life; “Life is golden, that’s how I’m living”.

The final track of Act 1, ‘Sumo | Zumo’, breaks the similarity of the first three tracks. The light is beginning to escape him. It's also the first sign of Curry’s influence from hardcore rock — particularly evident in the way he distorts his vocals.

ACT II: GREY
Act 2 picks up where ‘Sumo | Zumo’ left off. Though the production of the tracks in this section may appear as disconsolate, his confident lyrics show a degree of luminescence.

‘Super Saiyan Superman | Zuper Za1yan Zuperman’ features a dark lo-fi beat that sounds like it should be the backing track to a horror movie. The haunting track sees Curry rap frantically about his money and status. Though the track is short, he clearly showcases his high standing in hip-hop. ‘Switch it Up | Zwitch 1t Up’ sees him experiment with textures in his vocals. Yet again, he asserts himself as one of the best rappers around. The thumping bass mixed with his fiery lyrics sets the track alight. Curry is no longer emerging or on the come-up, he’s here and wants everyone to know about it.

Starring oriental-inspired undertones, the production of ‘Mad I Got It | Mad 1 Got 1t’ is slow and flowing, which is completely opposite from the ferocity of his vocals. He mentions Stephen King, showing the influence he had on the project. The track’s ending sounds out this world and as if aliens are about to attack. ‘Sirens | Z1renz’ is another down-tempo track like the previous track. The bugs chirping in the background are borderline eerie.

Act 2 ends with ‘Clout Cobain | Clout Co13a1n’, which appears as an in-between track between ‘Grey’ and ‘Dark’. The melancholic number discusses themes such as battling demons and suicide; “I just wanna feel myself, you want me to kill myself / Man, I been on my own, Lord, I'ma need some help”. Curry is able to discuss these topics without them appearing cliche — which is something goth rap is often guilty of.

ACT III: DARK
Before listening to Act 3, I assumed that Curry was going to take the final portion of his album in the same direction as ‘Clout Cobain’, but I was mistaken. Act 3 sees him come for your favourite rapper and place himself in prime position.

‘The Blackest Balloon | The 13lackezt 13alloon’ would be the perfect track for a horror movie in a scene that’s about to turn murderous. The track gives the vibe of pure darkness and you feel terrified just listening to it, even when sitting in a brightly lit room.

The next few tracks see Curry completely discard the trash hip-hop has delivered in 2018 and no-one is safe. Every word of ‘Percs | Percz’ is believable — and if you’re one of the rappers he is dissing, you’re probably feeling uncomfortable listening to Curry completely torch you.  He comes for rappers whose music relies on the glamorization of prescription drugs. The next track ‘Vengeance | Vengeance’ sees Curry again declare his position amongst the rappers below him. The album closes on ‘Black Metal Terrorist | 13 M T’, where his vocals are impossible to contain like a wildfire. Out of all the track’s on the album, it’s the one that’s the most-influenced by metal/screamo rock.

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Denzel Curry’s Ta13oo is a comprehensive and multifaceted album that captures the various sides of not only his artistry but his humanity. Each track has been carefully considered and placed, and their disparateness is obvious. Curry is confident and self-assured and there’s no stopping him from here.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)


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