Label: Loma Vista Recordings
Released: 25th March 2022
Dating back to his breathless, clinical appearance in the XXL Freshmen Class of 2016 Cypher, Denzel Curry has always switched between raising hell and intense introspection. In contrast to his adlib-heavy mumble rapping alums Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, and Kodak Black, Denzel felt like a bridge between the old and the new; crisply enunciated and tightly technical, but still at his happiest mobbing out with his Soundcloud rap peers. With his fifth album, ‘Melt My Eyez See Your Future’, we’re met with a far more grounded Denzel, one who rarely amps up to anything resembling the sweaty bangers he once seemed destined to be defined by.
If that sounds like a refutation of the breakneck tonal flips of Denzel’s breakthrough ‘TA13OO’, or the out-and-out punk punch of ‘Zuu’, it’s not – it’s an evolution. Despite the fact Denzel never hits his black metal screeching highs (a fact he himself made a proud point of in the record’s press release), if anything he sounds hungrier for his barely-held-together restraint. Laying out the personal journey he’s been on in album opener ‘Melt’, you can practically hear the breaking point being pushed through: “Dealt with thoughts of suicide / Women I’ve objectified / Couldn’t see it through my eyes / So for that I apologise.” It’s a fierce, endearing statement of self reckoning.
What ‘Melt My Eyez’ shows is that there’s not a beat in the world Denzel couldn’t eat, even in his more zen state. Lead single ‘Walkin” exemplifies this best with its shift from boom bap to gloomy trap, and Denzel’s corresponding gear change from sedate musings to sharper observations, but every track has its own psychedelic verve that Denzel takes full advantage of, whether on the densely mixed drunken funk of ‘Smell of Death’, or the lo-fi drum and bass rip of ‘Zatoichi’. It’s easy to long for at least one ‘Ricky’-style high, but there’s a gratification to seeing Denzel’s personal growth mirror his artistic maturation. Taken as a whole, this is the sort of cohesive artistic statement he’s been aching to make for years.