The Legacy of Zeltron
Denzel Rae Don Curry, known on stage as Zeltron or Denzel Curry, is a curious character in the realm of music, constantly feeling fresh and underground while being a seasoned veteran in the hip hop genre. Despite giving the opening verse on the revered 2016 XXL Freshmen Freestyle, he has both experienced and expressed a sense of unappreciation alongside fellow 2016 freshmen names like 21 Savage and Lil Uzi Vert.
At some point in their career, every rapper has felt as though they deserve to be number one, yet few have the talent and the raw energy to stake a strong claim. Denzel is easily among those few, pioneering the south Florida sound full of unabated aggression and charisma. He is a shifting tide of talent, easily crafting Miami-style bangers like those off of his 2016 album Imperial, then showing unbelievable talent and conceptual genius with his magnum opus Ta13oo in 2018. Denzel continues to show a growing genius, making the 18-minute experimental boom-bap throwback side project UNLOCKED with good friend Kenny Beats. Since his viral debut with the rager “Ultimate,” Denzel Curry has been a shifting presence of raw rap talent, constantly reinventing himself with a new take on his bombastic south Florida sound. Now, 3 years after his last full-length album ZUU, a charismatic love letter to his hometown of Carol City, he returns with a cutting full-length project Melt My Eyez See your Future.
A Reinvented Musicality of Melodic Proportions
Melt My Eyez See Your Future was heralded by the release of the first single, "Walkin," back in late January. The track features a reinvented Denzel, shifting between a smooth beat change of soft vocals and a soft jazz-like bass line. The single is a meaty, almost five-minute promise of coming brilliance. Denzel has always been a master of lyrical genius; however, "Walkin" showed a new era for the young rapper with a barrage of rhymes combined with a newfound sense of introspection and calm reflection.
Brilliance was promised and continued to show with the later release of singles "Zatoichi" and "Troubles." Where "Walkin" showed Denzel relaxing along a track with the style and confidence of a headliner, the next singles showed his skill with collaborators, namely features from longtime friend British rapper slowthai and R&B legend T-Pain. Brilliance was confirmed, and the album was released on March 25.
The tracklist wastes no time to show off Denzel’s reinvented sound. The Floridian rapper, known for his anger and proud metal influences, opens his fifth studio album with smooth keys and vocals, his demeanor felt through the opening track "Melt Session #1" with a calm sense of confidence. The album continues under that precedent, with each track following the next with a complete rebirth of its creator. Denzel has always felt confident on his tracks, but he asserts his position in the rap game with a cool head and quiet confidence that suffocates the room. The new sound fits Curry like a well-worn glove, greeting the rapper with a newfound sound filled with nostalgia.
Smooth Sounds from the Black Metal Terrorist Himself
The sound of Melt My Eyez is immediately brilliant with a completely revitalized sound. Production came from all over the rap spectrum, with names like Kenny Beats, Dot da Genius, rapper JPEGMAFIA, and modern jazz legend Thundercat. The names don’t stop impressing there, with features coming from rappers Rico Nasty, JID, and 6LACK, as well as lesser-known artists like 454, Karriem Riggins, and Buzzy Lee. The only feature seemingly missing is a somewhat unnecessary feature from rapper Jasiah on "Ain’t No Way," an incredible song that begins to feel slightly crowded with the brief and forgettable feature from the Ohio rapper.
The mix of production styles and collaborators gives the album a constant sense of growth and development, like an organism that evolves as it's being observed. The tracklist develops a connective style of smooth melody and soft introspection with each song being able to define itself without relying on the other. The sound of the album is immaculate, the bass feels thick and juicy, and the keys feel playful and full of emotion. Layered with multiple instances of soft, delicate vocal performances, which allows Denzel to stretch and relax across the beats laid out before him. While he has had a discography full of incredible production, Melt My Eyez immediately shows itself as Curry’s strongest produced album ever. Each song is put together with clarity and style, creating a confident and consistent style that flows through the tracklist naturally and without difficulty.
The Lyrical Coming of Age Story of the Year
Even among his very talented XXL peers, Denzel stands out for his lyrical ability. Having the talent to spit with speed, energy, and intelligence, Denzel Curry has felt like a jack of all trades, a modern and bombastic performer with the lyrical talent of names like Kendrick and J. Cole. Denzel’s albums Ta13oo and UNLOCKED are filled to the brim with genius bars and rhymes that imbue street smarts, pop culture, references, and vintage hip hop respect. Melt My Eyez See Your Future continues that trend, showing Denzel at his most mature.
Denzel has spent the past five years since his freshman introduction spitting bars about his undeniable skill, his life in Carol City, and his vices for money and women. Melt My Eyez finds itself lined with lyrics that speak to a newfound maturity of the Florida rapper, taking a long look inside and reflecting upon himself as a result of the anxious world around him. The introspection on this album shows Denzel can command a concept, moshpit, and career with minimal effort. The natural and effortless style that Denzel has come to inhabit fits perfectly over the soft confidence that exudes from the album’s tracklist, showing him as an undeniable force of the modern rap era.
Promises of Greatness Yet To Come
Denzel Curry remains one of my favorite voices in the rap game. Mixing a devilish hand of hard rock and metal influences with undeniable lyrical and technical ability, Denzel proves that he deserves our attention with every breath. Every project—every feature from Denzel is nothing but him preaching to the choir, showcasing an almost unbelievable level of skill with each verse. Melt My Eyez See Your Future is nothing different, showcasing a revitalized Denzel Curry confidently walking through uncharted terrain with the calm demeanor of a seasoned native. The confidence and style of this new project is nothing short of inspiring and promises nothing more than true greatness awaiting.
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