Denzel Curry - “ZUU” Album Review
This album was originally released on May 31, 2019.
Most cities have an album that embodies their culture in hip-hop. New York has “Illmatic” and “Paul’s Boutique,” Atlanta has “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” and now Miami has “ZUU,” on which Carol City native Denzel Curry is unabashedly South Floridian. “ZUU” is a complete 180 lyrically and tonally from “TA13OO,” Curry’s last release. While the latter is a concept album exploring his thoughts on the rap game, society and exploring the light, grey and dark in his personality, “ZUU” is all about the energy and culture of the 305, Miami-Dade.
Two of Curry’s greatest strengths can be found throughout this album. Curry proves that the improvements to his hooks on “TA13OO” are here to stay, cementing his place as one of the best in the modern hook game. “RICKY” exemplifies this, as the hook is super catchy and has the same humor found on all of Curry’s work. Curry also shows his varied choice in beat, which makes all of his albums easily accessible. Many current artists use similar beats throughout an entire album, but Curry chooses different beats to make each song stand out in that aspect.
Curry’s desire to experiment in vocal style is apparent throughout. “WISH” has Curry deliver his lyrics in a light, melodic way, similar to some of his earlier work like “TA1300” and “This Life.” Kiddo Marv provides some of the bite on this track with heavier lyrics. Meanwhile, “SPEEDBOAT” shows Curry’s ability to rhyme and flow like the best in a grittier way, which contrasts with the almost angelic chorus. Both these tracks feature piano instrumentals that really lighten the mood and make these two stand out. Curry’s knack for clever pop culture references can also be found throughout.
This album is a bit on the short side, being only 29 minutes in length over 12 tracks, two of which are skits, and one of which is an interlude. Skits have been a feature of hip-hop since De La Soul’s debut album, and the ones found on “ZUU” are funny but unnecessary on such a short project. They fit the concept of what Curry is going for but would be better served with two more tracks.
It is great at capturing a culture, including a feature from frequent Curry collaborator Rick Ross, but it is lacking in substance. Compared to the thematic connections and lyrical deepness found on “TA13OO,” “ZUU” can feel a bit lacking. This is not a knock on Curry, as the two albums are meant to have different feels.
Curry is as solid as ever, and proves that he can make anything he wants to do work, from hard-hitting social commentary, to fun and energetic bangers, to even metal music. The features are all solid, but none blow you away like past Curry features, J.I.D and JPEGMAFIA. Curry’s next album will take him in whatever direction he wants to go. With a dubstep album and a Willie Nelson collaboration on the way, Denzel Curry is carving out his space as Denzel Curry the artist, which shows he is much more than a rapper.
Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “WISH”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “P.A.T.”
Owen Paiva is a Sophomore majoring in film/video. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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