Denzel Curry is a 27 year old MC from Carol City, Florida who came up as a member of the SpaceGhostPurrp-founded Raider Klan a little over a decade ago. He then left in 2013 & has seen quite the success on his own off projects like Nostalgia 64, 32 Zel (Planet Shrooms), imperial, TA13OO, Zuu & the Kenny Beats-produced UNLOCKED. But given that the 2 year anniversary of the latter just passed a month ago, Zel’s following up the 2 singles he’s dropped within the last few months with his 5th album.
“Melt Session #1” kicks the album off with a jazzy boom bap instrumental from Robert Glasper talking about how Zel stays walkin’ whereas “Walkin’” follows it up by sampling “The Loving Touch” by Keith Mansfield tackling the struggles of life. “Worst Comes to Worst” keeps things in boom bap turf thanks to Dot da Genius talking about institutional issues in the United States leading into the smoky “John Wayne” produced by JPEGMAFIA comparing himself to [the titular actor] when walking around the hood.
Meanwhile on “The Last”, we have Zel jumping on top of a cloudy trap beat talking about how tomorrow’s not promised just before Saul Williams tags along for “Mental” confessing their suicidal thoughts on top of a calming boom bap beat. T-Pain comes into the picture for the vibrant”Troubles” produced by DJ Khalil & Kenny Beats talking about problems that drugs can’t solve, but then the Rico Nasty/J.I.D assisted “Ain’t No Way” finds the trio back on some trap shit addressing those who still doubt them.
“X-Wing” mixes some strings & hi-hats talking about not wanting power except the delivery makes it the weakest track on the album while “Angelz” works in some pianos & dusty drums thanks to Karriem Riggins confessing being sick of the bullshit. “The Smell of Death” sees Thundercat incorporating a heavy amount of synthesizers for Zel to spit streams of consciousness while the song “Sanjuro” shouts out those who say he ain’t deep enough over an explosive Cardo instrumental. The penultimate track “Zatoichi” with slowthai is a cool ode to the Japanese character of the same name over a drum & bass beat from Powers Pleasant while “The Ills” ends the album on a jazzy note talking about his illusions.
Even though I liked ZUU, I think this up there with imperial & TA13OO in being one of the best albums of Zel’s career. I really admire how he continues to expand on the risks he took on the latter as well as taking influence from what’s going on right now in the world & films by one of the greatest directors of all-time: Akira Kurosawa.