Sadly, I did not review Denzel Curry’s TA13OO album. When it first dropped, I’ll admit, I slept on it. And I thought it would be wack of me to try and play catch-up. It was arguably the best hip-hop album of 2018 nonetheless. Luckily for me, the South Florida artist returned rather quickly. Less than a year after TA13OO, Denzel Curry is still in his bag. At a concise 29 minutes, these 12 tracks embody the tropical yet gritty atmosphere of America’s southernmost metropolis. This album is brash, cool, and clean like early-2000’s Brad Pitt in a white linen button-up. The title track opens up the project well. Curry’s vocal layers rest gorgeously atop an eerie sample loop. Each track transitions forward in effortless fashion, showcasing the young emcee’s diverse sonic palette. Songs like “WISH” and “P.A.T.” would typically never appear on the same hip-hop record. Here they flourish.
Although ZUU pales in comparison in terms of lyrical substance to his past work, it is a refreshing change of pace. Each album marks a new level of growth for Denzel. He urged his fans on Twitter to approach this album with an open mind. Some underrate him while others gas him ceaselessly. Personally, I find him properly rated, though I do believe many gloss over his talents. Few of his contemporaries match melody, madness, and musicality such as he. This is for those who are unsure of Curry’s brand of rap. He is not always intense and introspective. He knows how to have fun too. “SHAKE 88” is a strip-club anthem perfect for those endless summer nights. Even though it’s not my favorite type of track, it serves its purpose with competence. Additionally, “SPEEDBOAT” and “RICKY” are solid singles. These casual bangers bridge the gap between suave and grime.
Conversely, I still have my gripes with this project. In spite of pristine production value, ZUU features two handfuls of surface-level lyrics and unexceptional guests. Coming from an artist of Curry’s caliber, these shake-that-ass and grab-the-strap bars deflate over time. However, he indeed sprinkles his potential throughout this album, hinting at what is to come in subsequent years. And while he does water down his substance here, he still met his goal of releasing of a homegrown-vibe record. From start to finish, ZUU is entertaining and easily digestible. It functions as a seasonal placeholder, but with much more polish than your average rap act — in about half the time. Basic bars aside, these beats ebb and flow successfully beneath Denzel Curry’s high-energy performances. This will not go down as one of the year’s best. Yet for the next couple months, it will come in handy for playlisters across the country.