Album Review: Denzel Curry – TA13OO

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Artist: Denzel Curry

Album: TA13OO

Genre: Hip Hop

Rating: 9/10

 The human mind is far from being one dimensional, so why should music be? Florida rapper Denzel Curry realizes this. While his more popular contemporaries spotlight one emotion out of the myriad of emotions contained in the human psyche, Curry made it his mission to explore all sides of the human mind on his new album TA13OO, no matter how dark or light, and he definitely has the versatility to do so. The roll-out for TA13OO found the album being released in three different acts. “Act 1” is dubbed “Light,” “Act 2” is “Grey”, and “Act 3” is “Dark.” Of course at some point you’re going to have to listen to this album in it’s entirety, and impressively enough the album never feels too incohesive despite it’s constantly shifting moods. How does this work? Well, the glue that holds it all together is the understanding of dichotomy. That dichotomy is right away presented to us on the opening track “TA13OO.” Seeing as how this track opens the “Light” section, the instrumental is fittingly laid back, dreamy, and hopeful, but Curry’s first line confuses the listener as he sings “Welcome to the darker side of taboo.” This contrasts the light instrumental quite well and may represent to us how even in our happier or hopeful moments there’s always that feeling of self-doubt or fear. No matter how minuscule the negative may be during large bursts of happiness and contentment, it’s still there. The personification of “taboo” on the track can be confusing, but it’s appropriate. After all, what’s more identifiable to a human being than another human being? The following track “BLACK BALLOONS” follows the same light and dreamy vibes of the previous track, and it’s heavily inspired by Stephen King’s “IT” with it’s references to floating balloons, and with an exceptional verse from GoldLink and smooth backing vocals from Twelve’len, this track is definitely a highlight. The track “CASH MANIAC” is a smooth banger laden with 80’s synths and a heavy “P-Funk” sound. Coming from the point of view of a hungry rapper seeking out cash and overcoming the hardships thrown at him, it informs the listener that they’re on their way to the “Grey” part, a part that finds Curry celebrating success, and with a track like “SUMO,” a “Trap Heavy” banger where Curry aggressively flexes, it transitions perfectly into the “Grey.” The “Grey” section is where the “Trap” heavy bangers kick in with Curry’s signature hype flow. On the surface some of these tracks don’t sound too far from your mainstream “Trap Rap” favorites. They’ve got the high hats, the bass heavy kicks, the catchy hooks, and the quotable ad-libs the mainstream usually gravitates to, but the ingredient these tracks have that most others don’t is quality lyrical content and wordplay. Even when you delve into the lyrics the underlying meanings will at first be buried under the clever Pop culture references and flexing. With a track like “SWITCH IT UP,” the bi polar feelings and shifting moods reflect how even at our most successful or wealthiest, our moods still constantly change, and as the the “Grey” section gets progressively melancholy with tracks like the socially aware “SIRENS” featuring a spectacular J.I.D. verse, and the gut-wrenching “CLOUT COBAIN” with it’s heavy themes of depression and pressure the media puts on entertainers, we follow the album’s descent into darkness. The “Dark” section is…. you guessed it! Dark. The production is meaner and moodier, and Curry lets loose with an all out aggressive flow. It’s violent and braggadocios, and while the “Grey” section was a melancholy kind of dark towards the end, the “Dark” section finds Curry delivering aggression. It even begins with the hook “Feels like a Horror movie” on the track “THE BLACKEST BALLOON.” The track “PERCS” is a comment on the drug Rap culture and how Curry refuses to succumb to it’s dominance, detailing how his goals are to innovate and push the boundaries in Hip Hop. He has succeeded at that. With the final tracks “VENGEANCE” featuring a killer JPEGMAFIA verse that will make you once again say “Daaaaaamn Peggy,” and the balls out aggression of “BLACK METAL TERRORIST,” the album ends in the darkest way possible, which was Curry’s plan. It was a bold move doing this, considering how most albums or movies leave people with a happy ending, or how most albums begin with the hype tracks and then transition into the more introspective, but the idea that not all things end in the light, and how some things get progressively darker is something Curry wanted to spotlight, and it works, because if you restart the album it seamlessly flows right back into the light, representing the never ending cycle of moods we go through while we’re alive. Denzel Curry is one of the few rappers today who can make an album this dense and conceptual, and it’s truly incredible how he can touch on darker subjects without straying away from accessibility. This album is proof that you can be catchy and innovative at the same time. Take notes people. 

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 07/31/18

 

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