Thursday, August 2, 2018

Denzel Curry - TA13OO Review

In short order, Denzel Curry's gone from a formidable Soundcloud rapper caught in the peak of the website's hype to a bonafide wunderkind and sole savior of Trap. While Imperial unveiled his appetite for aggression and knack for showmanship, it wasn't until 2017's outstanding 13 - the precursor to TA13OO - where the Florida rapper's status as deranged artist came to fruition. Laced with maniacal production techniques hellbent on amplifying cursory Industrial Hip-Hop, like 'Hate Government' and 'Bloodshed,' 13 exposed Curry as an unwaivering madman content living in extremes. Unlike his previous works, structure decomposed leaving only essential elements, presenting a new form of extemporaneous songwriting in the process. It was reinvigorating, especially for thrashing Trap. And while TA13OO regrettably restores sanity with 13 carefully-crafted tracks, Curry's incorruptible talents as a multifaceted emcee - mixed with a bevy of indisputable bangers - single-handedly rekindle's the fire Trap's lost these past few years.

Considering TA13OO's title, it was safe to assume controversial topics would arise. Curry wastes no time on this front, presenting a previously-unseen side of Soul on 'Taboo' as he metaphorically relates taboos to that of his love interest's traumatic experience with molestation. This alone, regards of execution, sets Curry apart from his troublesome contemporaries. Parlaying with a strong sense of compassion, despite a misguided need to alleviate physical PTSD with sex ("kill the pussy hoping I can kill the hate in you"), the soft-spoken opener declares Curry an intellectual Trap rapper; a most-assured rare breed. This continues on the excellent 'Black Balloons,' a tempting mixture of The Roots' Boom Bap, A Tribe Called Quest's Pop Rap, and Outkast's Love Below-era Neo-Soul. On it, a lively Curry and piquant Goldlink discuss the concept of pain through the eyes of Pennywise. Elsewhere, 'Sirens' delivers two emotion-driven verses on the state of America, not out of tune - often times better - than the political cuts on Joey Badass' All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies' Vacation In Hell. 'Clout Cobain,' perhaps unsuccessfully, opens up a conversation on suicidal thoughts through groovy, bass-driven Southern Hip-Hop. And 'Blackest Balloon' correlates familial drama and suffering with the fantasizing theatrics of a horror movie.

Unfortunately, TA13OO's remaining tracks aren't as thought-provoking or profound, typically (and almost exclusively) obsessing over Hip-Hop's greatest trope; unsolicited braggadocio. Frustration is inflated thanks to TA13OO's three-act arc, something that holds no underlying meaning or purpose, squandering yet another concept album to poor execution. It's actually quite odd just how similar the three acts are, with each sporting their fair share of somber, moody, and aggressive tracks. That being said, as we've become all too familiar with Curry, banger's are his bread and butter, and on TA13OO that's no exception. Two three-track runs highlight his destructive versatility, the first being 'Sumo,' 'Super Saiyan Superman,' and 'Switch It Up.' The former, bass-worshipping Memphis Rap, middle, contorted Trap inline with Ski Mask The Slump God, and latter, eerie Pop Rap with the atmospherics of a G.O.O.D. Music smash hit (think 'Mercy' or 'Panda'). In a way, TA13OO's abrasive pinnacles generously showcase the adaptability of the term 'banger,' as Curry flaunts a myriad of flows over intriguing and twisted beats. The only pieces that don't impress in this regard are 'Cash Maniac,' ruined by the scritching of Nyyjerya, and 'Mad I Got It,' which impersonates Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice to a fault. These moments, along with 'Clout Cobain,' represent the worst of TA13OO's bunch.

By album's end however, Curry's seething testosterone torpedos out on 'Percs,' 'Vengeance,' and 'Black Metal Terrorist.' On 'Percs,' he bedevils and mocks the generation of Mumble Rap over asphyxiating production they'd be accustomed to, while TA13OO's final two behemoths spiral into the dingy metallics of 13. On 'Vengeance,' Curry enlists two militant malefactors in JPEGMAFIA and ZillaKami, who both match the excruciating energy disclosed by the marvelously-mischievous hook, while divvying up his unstable personalities on the capricious 'Black Metal Terrorist.' Each of these efforts, some of the best Trap-laced bangers you'll hear all year, with the latter triumphing thanks to an apocalyptic finale that invites clangorous Death Metal in a way Industrial Hip-Hop hasn't entertained before. Occasionally-cliched lyrics and lack of overall significance given the hype aside, TA13OO's swelling array of prepossessing hits helmed by a dynamic character is just too good to miss.

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