Denzel Curry shifts from explosive to existential on his fifth studio album, the Floridan’s most realised work so far.
Curry has worked hard to transcend from his era. A product of the SoundCloud rap movement, he pursued a satisfying fusion of trap production and lyrical prowess that was rare for its time. It resulted in acclaimed albums such as Imperial, TA13OO and ZUU, whipping up one of the most impressive new-school discographies in the blink of an eye. The willingness to evolve is what’s kept his name alive, which is why his next turn is always anticipated in the hip hop world.
Melt My Eyez See My Future finds the traditionalist within Curry, using his voice and words more than ever to pollinate thoughts.
On previous albums, Denzel used his imagination to create fantastical domains and characters. On Melt My Eyez See Your Future, Denzel Curry establishes himself as a citizen of the world. This is all about the real him, exploring his existence through his most lucid writing to date. “Take a ride on my train of thought,” he says to kick off opening track “Melt Session #1”, dissecting his behaviours over the course of a verse. He seeks God to better himself, exploring religion on songs like “Worst Comes to Worst” where Denzel’s curiosity is enough to get yourself questioning the same ideas (“Hey God, is Earth gon’ keep revolvin’? / Can’t you see I’m lost here? Can’t you see we lost here? / Tried to get to Heaven but we see that Heaven cost here, huh?”).
Melt My Eyez evokes plenty imagery. The 45 minutes is a serene experience, sounding as if Denzel is walking through a desert on the route to find his answers. “Walkin” is right in line with this thought, standing tall as one of the best singles of the year. It’s motivational not just for Denzel but the listener as well, a power that consistently channels through the album. “Last Day” is equally encouraging, a track that could’ve found itself on Curry’s 2016 album, Imperial.
The easiest label for Melt My Eyez is that it’s Curry’s most mature album. He has always been mature in his music, regardless of the punk-ish bangers. Except this time it’s the production driving this notion. Here, the calmer tones help Denzel’s messages come across with ease; there’s no mistaking the intent behind his writing and the songs they find themselves on. It grants room for an album less cryptic than TA13OO and neither casual like ZUU.
The energy does eventually arrive with “Ain’t No Way”, a posse cut that guests JID, 6LACK, Rico Nasty and Jasiah. It navigates from trap hi-hats to a soulful finale, with every contribution making sense. Although the penultimate track, “Zatoichi” with Slowthai is a fitting closer for the album’s theme of eyesight, leaving the thought that Denzel is helping lost people despite being lost himself (“I’m Zatoichi leadin’ the blind”).
As Denzel walks through the desert, we are walking through his brain, witnessing new peaks of his songwriting, concepts and sounds. Even if he cannot see, Curry’s future shows plenty more promise to uncover.
8 / 10
Best tracks: “Walkin”, “Ain’t No Way”, “Melt Session #1”, “Zatoichi”, “Angelz”