Denzel Curry “TABOO” Review

Final Verdict= A-

Eli Schmitt, Writer

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By Eli Schmitt

Denzel Curry is an artist from Florida that made waves in 2016 with his second studio album “Imperial” which showcased very aggressive bars and flows as well as Curry’s great technical rapping abilities. The album won him not only respect and admiration but also a spot on XXL’s 2016 Freshman List. Then in 2017, he released the “13” EP which in his words was just a teaser for his next album which he titled “TABOO.” It wasn’t until July 27 that Curry released his third album which is titled “TA13OO.”

“TA13OO” was released in three parts in the three days leading up until July 27. This is because the album is a three-act album. Act 1 representing light, act 2 representing gray and finally act 3 representing dark. The album is overall very dark in tone even in it’s lightest moments. Curry dramatically improves his hook game as well as his production. That being said the production across this album is very hard hitting and fits the tone of the album very well.

Act 1 starts off with the title track “TA13OO” which is on what is supposed to be the light side of the album is very dark. This is only strengthened by the repeated phrase “Welcome to the darkest side of taboo.” Even Curry’s happiest thoughts are dark. I enjoy the lyrics about a love interest and how Curry flows over the beat. Next, we have the song “BLACK BALLOONS” featuring Goldlink and Twelve’len, the song is about dark thoughts hanging over your head like black balloons. I love the bubbly and bouncy production. While the Goldlink verse isn’t the best it decent not to mention his nice flow. I also enjoy the outro which is a swirl of people telling Curry what can can’t do and that “they’re gonna catch up to your game.”

Act 2 begins with “SUPER SAYIAN” which immediately sets the mood for act 2. This song is short and to the point with Curry demonstrating a great flow as well as having some very clever line. Overall this is a very hard and head-banging song. Next comes the song “SWITCH IT UP” which is about how people change when you become famous or acquire wealth. Curry goes through many great flows and inflection changes throughout the song. The hook is supremely catchy, and production is as hard as ever. I also love the line “They only know Denzel Curry, But they really don’t know Denzel, Everybody wanna ride waves, And jump when the ship doesn’t sail.”Which I feel really encapsulates what the song is about. After this comes “MAD I GOT IT” which is very similar in topic to “SWITCH IT UP” in that the song deals with the theme of how fame and money have changed his life for the worse thus he’s mad he got it. But unlike the previous song “MAD I GOT IT” is much moodier and melodic. The song’s hook isn’t my favorite, but overall it’s a good song. Next, we have “SIRENS” featuring J.I.D, who is an up an coming rapper from Atlanta who is signed to J.Cole’s ‘Dreamville’ label (if you haven’t checked out his 2016 album “The Never Story” I highly recommend it.) In Curry’s words, he wrote “SIRENS” to “talk about what’s really happening in politics, what goes unnoticed when you see things as a distraction and everything.” J.I.D’s verse is amazing even at one point interpolating the melody of the national anthem. Curry too holds his ground with two great verses. The hook is also quite good and oddly beautiful. The final song of act 2 is the third single before the release of the album “CLOUT COBAIN.” I originally didn’t really care so much for the song, but it has since grown on me and is now one of my favorite on the album. “CLOUT COBAIN” is a song mainly focussed on the current clout obsessed hip-hop genre and how the industry and fans are so demanding of an artist who is in Curry’s word killing themselves for others entertainment. I love the dark atmosphere of the music and the melody of the chorus. I also really enjoy how this song really sets the mood for the next act.
Act 3 begins with “THE BLACKEST BALLOON” a song that is more of a mood setter for the final act than anything else. This is by far the darkest and most insane song on the album. With amazing nihilistic verses from all artist given with an insane amount of energy. The production isn’t anything amazing, but it doesn’t need to be because of all the energy that the artist brings. Its song like that makes me just want to smash stuff and fight people. I also love the guitar outro that finishes the song and is the perfect cool down after the insanity the is “VENGEANCE.” The final song on “TABOO” is “BLACK METAL TERRORIST” and it is a great closer to an already amazing album. I love the repeated mantra of “Finish them Zel” and the overall energy of the song. The production is done in a way that can seamlessly transition from the quite hook to the loudness of the verses. Finally, the song ends with static bringing the album full circle back to the beginning showing the cycle from light to gray and finally to dark.

This project really shows Denzel’s skill of making absolute bangers of a song without giving up any lyrically to emotional quality, a talent very few people have in the game right now. I also think that Denzel is really good at exploring the gray side of life and side not very much talked about. My only wish for this album is that the different acts could be more distinct. This is mainly present in the start of act 2, I personally can’t tell that “SUMO” is supposed to be on the light side of the album and how much different that song is from “SUPER SAYIAN.” But overall I’m happy that Curry tried to make a cool concept through his album instead of a collection of separate tracks. Overall very happy with this album and I can’t wait to hear how Curry can improve his skills even more.

Favorite Tracks: BLACK BALLOONS, SIRENS, CLOUT COBAIN, PERCS, VENGENCE

Least Favorite Tracks: CASH MANIAC, SUMO

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