Denzel Curry - 'TA13OO' Album Review
I have always found that Denzel Curry is severely overlooked in mainstream hip-hop and truthfully he's always had top tier flows and lyrics that put him above his peers. After the phenomenal Imperial in 2016, Curry cemented himself as one of the best at creating hard-hitting, aggressive and political hip-hop while telling vivid stories in the process. This legacy is continued on TA13OO (Taboo) as the listener is dragged down the deep dark well that is Denzel Curry's psyche, making for one of the grittiest albums of the year.
Denzel has always been one for theatrics within his music and TA13OO is no different, deciding to release the album in 3 different acts going from light to dark. Let's start off with act 1: 'Light' which really lives up to it's name despite Curry's reputation. The songs 'Taboo' and 'Black Balloons' both make use of bouncy, glistening instrumentals but Denzel's lyrics hold more of a sinister and insidious message, likening his mental state to a balloon ready to pop. After 'Cash Maniac' (a song that wouldn't sound out of place on a Brockhampton project) we get 'SUMO' the first indication of darker things to come as this hypnotic banger sees Curry putting on his best DMX impression providing for one of the catchier hooks.
This is just one of the fantastic hooks on TA13OO as Curry's excellence in writing catchy hooks is put on full display. It's almost impossible not to praise Curry's lyricism or flow but the man deserves a lot of credit for writing and performing catchy hooks. 'SUMO', 'Clout Cobain' and 'Sirens' to name a few, all have fantastically potent and engaging hooks that really give this album some lasting impact. After 'SUMO' we are greeted to the 'Grey' portion of the album where Curry begins to show his teeth, showcasing some more banging tracks like the hype-inducing 'Switch It Up'. 'Sirens' is another highlight, featuring a fantastic guest verse by J.I.D and additional singing by Billie Eilish, curry uses this song discuss police brutality in a deeply personal way, dedicating the song to Trayvon Martin, a famous victim of police violence someone who attended the same school as Denzel in Florida. This is followed by the sinister and melodic banger of 'Clout Cobain' with it's eerie hook repeating 'Suicidal doors, call it Kurt Cobain / Suwu leather seats, Like a bloody stain' like a demonic nursery rhyme. This transitions into the 3rd act of the album 'Dark' and I can honestly say that this is some of the darkest, grittiest and energetic hip-hop I've ever heard. As Death Grips begin to mover further and further away from the genre it's clear that this is the closest we are going to get to punk in hip-hop as all 4 tracks on the 'Dark' act are mind-meltingly hard.
'Percs' is an anti-drug anthem with a driving siren behind the fast drum loop along some of Denzel's best writing but the culmination of act 3 is without a doubt 'Vengeance', which, as abrasive as it is, might just be my favourite song of the year. Featuring ZillaKami and the incredible JPEGMAFIA, 'Vengeance' is gitchy, abrasive and grimy as each artist passionately shouts their verse over a swirling and intoxicating beat that doesn't leave you a moment to breathe.
As the album progresses, Curry gets more and more aggressive, angry and unapologetic in his raps, opening with the clean and smooth 'Light' act, and ending with the grimy and menacing 'Dark' act. As the album's audio space gets darker so do the lyrics as Denzel begins to rap about more 'taboo' topics such as suicide and police brutality as the album closes. I would guess that this is the idea behind the title, as Curry gets more and more unfiltered as the album progresses. I've never seen an album take such a nosedive in sounds as TA13OO transitions from fun, synth-pop into pure punk and hardcore hip-hop making this one of the most ambitious albums of the year landing itself cleanly as Curry's best work to date and one of the best projects that modern hip-hop can offer, even if it is a little jarring on the ears.
Check out the album in full (and it's disturbing album cover) below: