Denzel Curry Is Just Scratching the Surface
Denzel Curry is moving faster than most of us can keep up with. Listening to his 2019 album, ZUU, followed by Melt My Eyez See Your Future, released in March of this year, one might be surprised to find out they came from the same artist. This demonstrates both the versatility and the fast rate of transformation that typifies Curry, who always strives to offer his listeners something new. “I was thinking about it every day, meticulously,” Curry says. “What is going to make this different from my past work?”
While some might enjoy a victory lap after their most acclaimed work, Curry has already announced several upcoming projects, including an expanded version of Melt My Eyez, as well as sequels to the 2020 mixtape 13LOOD 1N + 13LOOD OUT and the Kenny Beats collab Unlocked. What has piqued the interest of most, however, is the revelation that his next studio album will be a melodic R & B record evocatively entitled Designed By Angels.
While this might seem like a left-field choice, it would be unwise to second-guess the artist. “Every time I work on new music, people always get skeptical because they don’t know how it’s gonna be,” explains Curry. “Then they get the project and they’re like, ‘Holy shit! This is really good!’”
SHARP caught up with Curry in the studio to chat about the vision for his latest album, how therapy helped shape his outlook, and the one side of himself that he has yet to express on the record.
Your latest record dropped in March to stellar reviews. Most critics seem to think it’s your strongest yet. Do you feel like you’re at the top of your game?
No, no — I didn’t even scratch the surface. It’s not my peak. Most people peak in high school!
Your previous record, ZUU, came out in 2019. How do you think you’ve changed as a person since that record was released?
You know, I make less stupid decisions — but I still make stupid decisions. I would say I did a lot of internal growing. I was looking at myself for real, for real. The majority of the time that I was working on ZUU, I was trying to appeal to Miami. I was making old-school Miami music because I was homesick. But now, this record is coming from more of a place of my interests — what I like and who I am as a person, good and bad, and me trying to work through that.
You’re easily at your most introspective on Melt My Eyez, talking about your various experiences with depression, addiction, misogyny, and abuse. Was it scary to be so vulnerable on the record?
Hell yeah! Because I knew some people probably weren’t going to get it. But then I realized, most people go through this shit all the time, and the people that don’t like it are the ones that don’t want to really look at themselves. And the ones that do like it say, “I like how vulnerable you were, because it’s easier to relate to you.”
Most people can’t relate to somebody who’s got lots of money and cars, and stuff like that, because they’re going through shit, you know? So I just had to put on front street what I was going through, for real.
How has going through therapy helped you to find the voice to express these struggles in your music?
Because a lot of that stuff that I was expressing through my music was mainly anger and sadness. With anger, that’s a front, and underneath that is the sadness. So going to therapy just helped me explore the other range of emotions that I have: happiness, guilt, melancholy, anger, anxiety — I’ve had to literally go through all of them and feel. And, trust me, that’s pretty hard.
The musical inspirations you’ve listed are multitudinous: jazz, acid jazz, trip hop, R & B, and more. How do you go about incorporating that many influences into a single project?
Hell nah! Because I knew once I put it all together, they were all going to be cohesive either way it went. I just wanted to incorporate all these things because I was hearing them, and you know when you hear a record over here, and a record over here, and a record over here, and you’re like, “If I put this all in a playlist, it’s all gonna flow.” That’s how I looked at it.
You’ve said your next studio album, Designed by Angels, will be an R & B record inspired in part by Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, D’Angelo’s Voodoo, and OutKast’s Love Below. Is this something you’ve been considering for a long time?
Yeah, I feel like that needs to happen, because they got the angry me, they got the introspective me, they got the lyrical me, the super creative me — the only thing that was missing is the love aspect, the heart chakra, they’re missing that, you know? But before that, you’re gonna get projects like 13LOOD 1N + 13LOOD OUT 2, you’re gonna get Unlocked 2 — and I might even squeeze a third one out there before I even think about touching Designed by Angels. And Unlocked 2 isn’t going to be an EP like its predecessor; it’s going to be more of an album.
Can you give us a tease of what to expect from the Melt My Eyez deluxe?
Jazz, jazz, jazz. All that jazz.
That’s interesting, because on the track “Mental,” you say, “This is not rap, this is bebop”. Do you mean that literally?
Yeah, it is bebop. You’re gonna see what I’m talking about. You’re gonna see it, you’re gonna hear it, you’re gonna feel it, you’re gonna be engulfed in it, you’re gonna embrace it. You will bask in it.