Denzel Curry is a very common name in hip-hop, but more or less for the wrong reasons. Denzel first hit the scene as a member of a teenage rap group called “Project Mayhem,” alongside his friend and frequent collaborator, SpaceGhostPurrp. Denzel’s voice stood out most among his peers, so he was used sparingly, and when he was given the spotlight, his charisma and natural talent took over. A few years later, in 2012, “Ultimate” became a viral sensation and helped garner Curry some critical acclaim in underground hip-hop circles. After this brief moment of buzz, Denzel vanished from the public eye for a couple of years only to resurface with a new name and a new sound. In 2014, Denzel released his debut album titled “Nostalgic 64”, showcasing a clear evolution from the young rapper who started with SGP. However, 2016’s double EP “Imperial” would cement Denzel as one of the most exciting rappers in all of hip-hop. Denzel’s latest project is very much in the same vein as “Imperial,” but with an even more aggressive style, which has got people wondering how he’ll be remembered along with the pantheon of hip-hop greats. Below are his top 10 best songs of all time:
Denzel delivers a braggadocios verse describing his impressive wealth and success, all over a bass-heavy beat by RonnyJ, reminiscent of the take-no-prisoners trap music that has been ruling the hip-hop scene recently. Denzel’s flow is smooth and infectious, providing an energetic feeling to this already intense song. Combining these elements makes “Speedboat” one of the best songs on Curry’s “Imperial.”
9. This Life
“This Life” is one of the lighter songs on “Imperial.” The song flirts with other genres — psychedelic rock, in particular. Curry’s vocals are distorted, and his lyrics are hard to discern through all of the psychedelic effects that have been applied to them, but this adds to the mystery of it all. “This life is a trip/I need to get higher,” Curry croons over the psychedelic guitar riff. If you want something that completely breaks away from the typical trap sound that dominates hip-hop right now, then take a hit off of “This Life.”
8. BLACK BALLOONS | 13LACK 13ALLOONZ (Feat. Twelve’len & GoldLink)
When Curry decided to release a double EP in 2016, he did so under two different monikers. One of these projects was “13LACK 13ALLOONZ,” whose lead single is the fantastic song, Black Balloons. The song features hip-hop up-and-comer GoldLink and fellow Raider Klan member, Twelve’len. The song has a very smooth vibe, complete with a soulful hook from Twelve’len and a chorus from GoldLink. While the song may appear to be a happy-go-lucky track at first, it deals with issues of anxiety and depression caused by police brutality, among other things. However, this isn’t clear until the end, when Denzel steps in and delivers a somber outro.
7. Sangria (Feat. $NOT)
“Sangria” was a song that flew under the radar for many people until it was showcased on “American Feature.” The slinky instrumental from RonnyJ is one of his best, and Curry’s delivery is on point. On this track, Denzel talks about personal things such as drugs and depression while still staying feature appropriate. Curry utilizes his low voice to perfection, which adds an ominous feeling to this slow burner. If you’re looking for a smaller dose of Denzel’s heavy-hitting raps, then look no further than “Sangria.”
6. Wig Split (Feat. Pouya)
On “Wig Split,” Curry showcases his aggressiveness. The song has a hook sung entirely by Denzel, but it’s the second half of the verse where Curry truly shines. After telling listeners how he wants to “split wigs like Anita Baker” (Anita Baker is an American singer-songwriter who was known for her long dreadlocks), he goes on to say how he “sprayed a nigga like Seal Team 6” (Seal Team 6 is the name of an American special operations unit that became world-famous for killing Osama Bin Laden). Curry ends the song by stating, “You’ll prayin’ for me/I’m prayin’ I don’t kill you.” These lines let listeners know precisely the type of person we’re dealing with on this track.
5. Tokyo Drifting (Feat. Glass Animals)
One of the best songs on the “13LACK 13ALLOONZ” EP, “Tokyo Drifting,” is a fusion between different genres that shouldn’t work but somehow does. Curry’s flow pairs perfectly with the jazzy instrumental from RonnyJ and Glass Animals singer Dave Bayley. The song maintains a peaceful vibe throughout its three-and-a-half-minute run time, but it still manages to give off a dark mood. Curry raps about depression, suicide, and police brutality over an instrumental that sounds like it came straight from a Wes Anderson soundtrack (Anderson is the director behind “The Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”). Something about this song truly feels different and in the best possible way.
4. VENGEANCE (Feat. JPEGMAFIA & ZillaKami)
On “VENGEANCE,” Denzel teams up with JPEGMAFIA and ZillaKami to create one of the best songs on his third album, “Ta13oo”. The song begins with a head-knocking instrumental, courtesy of Ronny J. Throughout the first verse, JPEGMAFIA deals with police brutality against people of color. When Denzel’s verse begins, JPEGMAFIA has laid down a smooth hook, and ZillaKami has also contributed an excellent verse to the song. However, it is Curry who truly shines on this track. He brings back his signature heavy-hitting raps while simultaneously delivering one of his best verses to date. The second half of Curry’s verse is where he begins to truly shine as he spits bars about police brutality and the unfair treatment of minorities in society. After ZillaKami delivers a stellar verse, JPEGMAFIA also helps close out the song with another outstanding contribution. Combining these three talented artists resulted in one of the best songs of 2018.
“RICKY” is arguably Denzel Curry’s best song, and it comes from his “When Reality Hits You Hard, Like A Rock Stone”…LMAO EP. The song opens with a lonely instrumental that soon becomes paired with some of the darkest lyrics we’ve heard from Curry to date. As he raps about how drugs can become a coping mechanism that will eventually lead to death, Curry also mentions how he doesn’t want to hurt his friends and family by telling them about these dark thoughts. The song takes yet another turn when Curry ends the song with a phone conversation between him and a doctor. In this part of the track, we get a sense of Denzel’s insecurities as he tells the doctor how he feels like everyone is plotting against him. “RICKY” is a unique song for more reasons than one, and that’s what makes it such a particular track.
2. Ultimate (Feat. Juicy J)
One of the most complex songs on “TA13OO”, “Ultimate” is a true banger that finds Curry teaming up with longtime collaborator Juicy J. This song manages to achieve the perfect balance between rap and EDM. Curry spits heavy bars throughout this track while Juicy J adds his touch to the song with his signature ad-libs.
1. CLOUT COBAIN | CLOUT CO13A1N
“CLOUT COBAIN | CLOUT CO13A1N” is the standout track on “TA13OO”. In this song, Curry takes us through his struggles as an artist to entertain fans while also addressing fake rappers trying to steal their shine. The song begins with a heartfelt intro where Denzel laments how many rap fans have treated him as a one-hit-wonder. As the song’s instrumental kicks off, we finally get to hear Curry deliver some of his heaviest bars to date. While most rappers would come out with guns blazing on such a track, Denzel took a different approach and still managed to make an impact. He rapped about how he used to be suicidal and how fans can’t relate to what he has been through. As the song closes, Curry delivers some of his most inspirational bars while also listing all the reasons why people should not give up on their dreams.
Denzel Curry has delivered some of the best rap songs to come out in recent years. While he may not be as big as other rappers from Florida, Curry’s bars are still enough to make anyone a fan. If you have not heard these ten tracks before, I highly recommend checking them out ASAP.