With the release of his third full length album, Denzel Curry drops TA1300 through three acts over the course of three days. Given the unorthodox release format, I want to structure this review as he intended us to listen. I will give each act it’s individual score and conclude with my thoughts on the whole tape.
Act 1 – Light: 8
Here we have Denzel aiming to soften his usual pseudo-metal intensity to experiment with lighter tones. The instrumentals on Light seem to reflect this intent for the most part, keeping the beats further in the backseat and the melody more upbeat. The sonic and stylistic contrast with Goldlink makes for a phenomenal feature on “BLACK BALLOONS” and pushes a funk sound previously unheard in a Denzel track. However, the inclusion of “SUMO” in this act felt a bit odd. Although it’s a certified banger, it was inconsistent with this section’s tone and lyrical themes. Overall, Light felt like the strongest act on the tape given that it felt that, even out of his comfort zone, Curry couldn’t miss.
Act 2 – Grey: 7
Grey features the Denzel we are most used to hearing in terms of both pace and lyricism (see. Imperial). We hear his usual aggressive flow jam-packed with expected quotable lyrics. Although this act was less memorable than the others, it does boast my pick for the tape’s strongest track by a country mile: “SIRENS” ft. J.I.D. It’s a track that features all-time great bars from J.I.D with Denzel holding his own. It’s also a song that shows his interest and ability to explore socially conscious rap. But except for another highlight in “SUPER SAIYAN SUPERMAN,” the rest of grey seemed to be the least memorable of TA13OO.
Act 3 – Dark: 9
Dark takes Denzel’s traditional energy and pace puts it into fifth gear. Undeniably dark and angry, this was also the only act where I felt the emotions and themes were truly consistent with his intended direction. The bone-shaking 808s and chilling synths are haunting and avoid redundancy as his past sound has often failed to do. However, what really takes the cake are Denzel’s earbud shattering bars, reaching into his bag of different flows and creative switch-ups. Impressive on its own, he does this all while maintaining a level of energy that would make a seasoned metalhead blush a little. My only complaint would be that he creates the impression that he would continue the more socially poised lyricism through “PERCZ” but instead seems to revert to his habit of quick punchline bars and buzzwords. While not necessarily a bad thing, it does feel he failed to continue working out of his lyrical comfort zone.
Overall TA13OO is Denzel’s most sonically adventurous album and shows definite growth from his Imperial days. Although stronger thematic consistency and poised lyricism is desired given the nature of its rollout, it’s an excellent album that will have plenty of tracks in my rotation.
RECS: “BLACK BALLOONS,” “SUMO,” “SIRENS,” “THE BLACKEST BALLOON”