Friday, August 25, 2017

Denzel Curry - 13 Review

It took approximately 13 minutes for Denzel Curry to convert me. Last year, Imperial's 38 minutes failed to do so. His brand of Trap on crack form-fitted to numerous cliches, causing a bullet-riddled debut LP that acted outside the box despite living lavishly within its walls. Curry certainly had a voice, a talent, a style, but hadn't yet discovered it. With 13, all that changes. If Death Grips' Steroids hadn't released this year, nothing since their spastic, unpredictable Niggas On The Moon would compete with the brazen thrash of 13's reckless decimation. Perhaps a byproduct of forced restriction, Curry's self-imposed limitations have inadvertently revealed the emcee's true purpose in Rap. That, of course, being the guiding voice to bridge the gap between Trap and Experimental Hip-Hop, something that's been teased in recent years with Danny Brown's Atrocity Exhibition and clipping's Wriggle. Mind you, neither accommodated the layman, but each demonstrated, at times, what the combination would sound like. Ruthless, cutthroat, and terse. 13 hides behind no barrier, conforms to no expectation, and instantly banishes any apathy I once held towards Denzel Curry. Despite segmenting itself through five songs, 13's breathless experience acts as one radical barrage of pent-up testosterone and merciless rage.

All that being said, I don't suspect it'll continue when Taboo inevitably drops. Time as a commodity as rare as water in Africa is exactly the reason for 13's success. Sadism works in two ways; prolonged torture and sudden pain. 13 is to the latter as, let's say, Swans' To Be Kind is to the former. Most addicts prefer the high of heroin to the bleak, agonizing low. And now I can see why. From 'Bloodshed' onwards, Curry leaves no trace of sedation, flying off the hinges, turning simple beings into blood-thirsty predators. The opener alone will make you sweat, with bass drops timed to Curry's explosions, the rapper himself keeping them frantic with his hectic pace a la Tech N9ne, who, by comparison, seems tame. His flows have seen dramatic improvement, a pleasure given his articulated annunciation. This, incredibly important given the bombastic nature by which the production relies. Apart from MC Ride, I can name no other rapper who could command 'Bloodshed' and 'Hate Government' like Curry does. The Industrial bite is searing, soused in militancy that exposes the ugliness of society. The blistering 90 seconds of 'Hate Government' the key example of this lawless debauchery.

To me, Curry's imposing presence on 13 feels like a feral gaining awareness of his caged surroundings, an apt decision given the rampant protests across the country. Apart from 'Zeltron 6 Billion,' which is the most stock song here, 13 lives within the riot. On 'Heartless,' Curry seems to rap through a megaphone, leading the chaos into depravity, while 'Bloodshed' directly questions his motives: "Denzel, why you had to make bloodshed?" The EP is a reactionary body of work; visceral, primal, and incendiary. Even though his experimental toe-dip was more manufactured, many comparisons can be drawn to Kanye West's Yeezus. His brand of austere noise and abstruse boundaries finds a more vitriol home on 13, best seen on 'Equalizer,' a track that's home to a melting pot of ideas. Hudson Mohawke's Yeezus can be seen in the muddy bass and jagged synths, the Flatbush Zombies in Curry's hybridized vocals, Drake on one half and Lil Uzi Vert on the other of Ronny J's verse. It's telling of what world Trap could be in had ingenuity played any role, instead of the brutally stale nature by which it exists. 13 is anything but. A heart-pounding, heart-ending 13 minutes and 14 seconds that paralyzes and petrifies anyone doomed to stand in its path.

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