It’s not uncommon to hear about how rap music has become shallow and has lost all focus on skill and originality, how it used to be so much greater back in the day and that everything currently being produced is nothing short of garbage put out by lazy, talentless, one-dimensional hacks. The thing is, I’ve been listening to hip hop music for the majority of my life and hearing those sentiments has always been the case. The truth is that it’s a pretty exciting time to be a music fan and a rap fan in particular. The internet has opened doors that weren’t always available before; hypothetically, providing opportunity and access for anyone to have their material heard if they’re only able to utilize the tools available to them and navigate the system well enough. While it’s true that the cyber world’s ability to offer even footing across the board also equates to even more expedient methods to distribute the same old over-produced, lesser-quality content en masse and influence the culture, there’s also a selection of incredibly hungry young artists dead set on clawing their way through the bullshit toward the top and delivering their artistic visions on their own terms.
One name that I’ve been hearing about over the last handful of years is Carol City, Florida rapper/producer, Denzel Curry. The 22-year-old former Raider Klan member began spitting out mixtapes back in 2011, before dropping his first official debut studio album, Nostalgia 64, to widespread critical acclaim only 2 years later. Curry followed up with the double-EP, 32 Zel / Planet Shrooms, in 2015 and his sophomore studio-full length, Imperial, last year, initially as a free download and later on limited edition vinyl (his first and only physical release to date). In October, XXL Magazine published an interview with the lightning quick lyricist that seemed mostly intended to probe him about how their decision to include him on their annual freshman class cover has gone on to benefit his career, but the byproduct is that it also unveiled some real insight about his plans for the future. One big move that he touched on was the distribution deal that he signed, which allows him to retain complete artistic freedom and remain independent for all intents and purposes otherwise; something that clearly demonstrates the amount of leverage he possesses as an artist that has already built up his own fervent and consistently growing fanbase all on his own. But more importantly, Zel spoke about his next full-length release, Taboo, which he has since stated will be “an even deeper reflection” of his life than his previous work.
This album is an even deeper self reflection on my life than imperial
— ZELTRON 6 Billion (@RavenxMiyagi) March 21, 2017
Stylized TA13OO, the highly anticipated upcoming LP is one that Curry hopes to push the envelope with, exploring subject matter and truths that he feels are shied away from far too often. Or, as he puts it, “the ugliest situations possible,” clarifying that he wants to “do it in a way where the ugliest situations sound so beautiful” When prompted for more specifics, he answered, “You know, molestation, teen insecurities, stuff like death, what love really is, people don’t talk about that anymore.”
More recently, Denzel has been dropping little hints and samples via more cryptic social media posts and messages juxtaposed alongside much more direct and bold statements like “You can never stop me and you’ll never take my creativity from me” and his claims that “people want [him] to be garbage so bad, but it’ll never happen” and that he is “going to be the greatest independent artist in the world.” On April 12th, he used his twitter account to announce “The next album will be the return of my separate personalities Aquarius’Killa, Raven Miyagi, Denny Cascade” and exactly a month later, his instagram account featured a red background overlayed with some black text consisting of an image of a giant “13” alongside some lyrics attributed to Aquarius’Killa “the first messenger.” The very next day — May 13th — he dropped “Hate Government Shit [demo]” produced by Australian duo FNZ (Finatik N Zac). Thirteen days after that came an almost identical black and red image with new lyrics on it accompanied by the text “13 days later…” and “the second message.” With it was the download for a Ronny J produced track listed as “Equalizer [demo].” Four days later Zel tweeted, “Anybody that you like now I’m better than them point blank period And I’m going to prove it one way or another,” later adding both “Don’t be mad cause I believe in myself” and “I slept on myself so long.” He followed those up with the explanation that “If you want to be better than your idols the mentality has to be fuck them all together.”
On May 31st, along with releasing an impressive video of him performing a live rendition of his hit “Ultimate” backed by jazz outfit, BadBadNotGood, Curry began posting images of himself captioned with the name “ZELTRON 6 BILLION” or simply “Zeltron” a fairly obvious homage to Del The Funky Homosapien‘s futuristic alter-ego, Deltron Z, from his Delton 3030 project with Dan The Automator and Kid Koala. On June 8th, a third new red and black post went up with lyrics credited to this newest alias, and labeled as “The Final Message” followed by the words, “The Final Messenger: I pray this way you up.” Today is June 13th and, as expected, the brand new track,” Zeltron 6 Billion,” is now available to stream. The lyrics on that final post — “Miami back to Richmond / Back to Cali… / They gon find your body / In the Alley..” — have also become more clear, as this new heavy FNZ-produced boom bap joint features Richmond underground cult rap legend, Lil Ugly Mane. Ugly and Denzel actually go back quite a ways; at least as far 2012, when LUM provided a verse on one of Curry‘s mixtapes and supplied production, under his alias Shawn Kemp, for a track on another. Resurrected from the dead, LUM has some highly anticipated releases of his own in the works, right now, including one from his project, Secret Circle — a transcontinental indie supergroup of sorts, rounded out by Antwon (San Jose) and NYC emcee, Wiki of Ratking — so this new song below does even more than simply provide the latest sample leading up to TABOO, it also helps to tide us over slightly before the next Ugly Mane release.
And when is Curry‘s new album supposed to drop exactly, anyway? We’re not sure, but with “Zeltron 6 Billion” being labeled as “the final message” it does raise some questions, especially when the press release for the track expressly urges us to “check back in 13 days.” I guess we’ll just have to see what unfolds at that point.
Curry‘s twitter account is now officially credited to ZELTRON 6 BILLION and features a tweet reading “In The Immortal words of Denzel Curry’s possessed body I will see you in 13 Days June 26th 2017.” Meanwhile, a new post has appeared on his instagram that states, “Denzel is not coming back ZELTRON IS HERE TILL HE RETURNS.” The instagram bio reads: “currently in possession of Denzel Curry.”