I Meant To Listen To: Denzel Curry, “TA13OO”

Like a lot of people, my first introduction to Denzel Curry came about with the release of his Like A Version video of Rage Against The Machine’s 1996 alt-rock classic, “Bulls On Parade”. As a Rage fan for most of my life, I have been witness to many an uninspiring cover. Hell, I’ve been in bands where we were the offending party. But this was not only a fantastic version that did the original song justice, it was the best possible first impression to Denzel Curry.

Curry’s energy on that performance was so palpable, you could almost taste it. After watching that video a couple times, I was left with a new artist to check out and a burning desire to see Denzel Curry front Rage Against The Machine.

Denzel Curry had also released an album this year called Zuu, which is an absolute joy to listen to. The production and its take on throwback early 90’s hiphop without being nostalgic was a blast to hear and is definitely on my list of favorite albums of the year.

But there is another release of Curry’s that brought some critical attention, 2018’s TA13OO. It’s been described as a much darker album and a descent into the madness of an artist. Sounds like something I want to listen to!

TA13OO (pronounced Taboo, for those unable to l33t… do people say that anymore? am I aging myself?) is an interesting album stylistically and musically. It is advised that the album should be listened from beginning to end in one go, as the album consists of the three equal parts representing the stages of Curry’s personality: light, grey, and dark.

The tracks in the “light” section are still dark in their own way. Topics such as self-destruction and doubt are openly talked about, but the instrumentation is bouncier and and the songs are further helped by catchy, repetitive lyrics. “Black Balloons” and “Cash Maniac” are airy and sound reminiscent of hiphop songs on the radio in the 90’s.

“Sumo” begins the journey out of the “lighter” tracks and into the more murky “grey” area (grey area, ha). I still really like “Sumo” as it is more of today’s modern style of hard-hitting hiphop that also happens to name drop WWE wrestler Rikishi, so I may be biased.

As the songs on TA13OO proceed to feed into each other and go into the “dark” phase, the playfulness of Curry definitely dwindles. The tracks begin to get swallowed up in thick bass and anxious hi-hat percussions taking the listener to a dark claustrophobic space. Not saying this is a “horror-core” album necessarily, but there are shades of deep-track Geto Boys here along with Esham. There is even a slight influence from Insane Clown Posse in how each song has its own distinct vibe.

Compared to Zuu, yes, TA13OO is definitely more dark and dreary, but it’s an exciting record and one worth experiencing. Checking out other rappers in the “Soundcloud” genre in the past had left me wanting more and it’s presentation was really not catering to my tastes, let’s be honest. However, I feel these last two records from Denzel Curry have catapulted him out of that “scene” and I feel he has a lot to offer. I’m excited to hear the next chapter.


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