Tarred with the increasingly polarizing ‘Soundcloud rapper’ brush, 23-year-old rapper Denzel Curry strives to stick out from the crowd and carve out his own identity on his latest album TA13OO. Right from the get-go of the album’s eponymous track, Curry’s somber yet compassionate tale of a friend’s history of abuse, as well as his clear knack for penning a memorable melody, provide us with a mere inkling of the versatility and ambition we are in for on TA13OO.
Curry’s ambition for this project is clear from its concept: Three acts, Light, Gray, and Dark. While this does make for an interesting idea, his execution feels loose and a tad incoherent, to the point where songs from one act feel as though they could be swapped with those of another. Still, the progression from Light to Dark is apparent on repeated listens, starting with the stunning single ‘Black Balloons.’ Sporting a silky-smooth ‘90s bounce, the upbeat instrumental provides us with aforementioned Light of the album’s first act, as well as a surprisingly good backdrop for Curry’s infectious chorus detailing his struggles with depression.
The highlights continue as the album rolls seamlessly from the party-friendly braggadocio of ‘Cash Maniac,’ to the speaker-destroying bass on ‘Sumo.’ It is here (and throughout the rest of the album), that Curry begins to brandish his biggest strength; Personality. He has a lot offer, whether its the wild and quirky delivery of ‘Switch It Up,’ the humorous pop culture references on ‘Sumo’, or the darkly hypnotic melodies of lead single ‘Clout Cobain,’ a brilliant commentary on the current climate of overnight fame and the plight of those who covet it. This album is brimming with personality and perspectives that Curry brings to life with a level of technicality, songwriting chops and charisma that is sure to set him apart from his peers.
On TA13OO, Denzel Curry crafts a wonderfully dark ode to the growing pains and struggles of youth, over instrumentals that while highly varied, all come together well to create that sense of omnipresent gloom reflected in his lyrics. The occasional piece of eye-rolling wordplay aside, TA13OO shows an honesty and complexity that is sure to captivate listeners and keep Curry on his upwards trajectory into the future.By Sam Oakley