All hail the crown prince of rap. Denzel Curry returns with his sixth studio album, effortlessly playing lead man to a star-studded collaborative cast with his own veritable flow and homage to the sprawling generations of rap that paved the road before him. His newest persona, Zeltron, is introduced as ‘Walkin’ fades out, likening the flux of his career to the sprawling odysseys of samurai heroes, even namedropping the fictional star of Japan’s longest running film series ‘Zatoichi’ in a namesake track featuring the inimitable slowthai. The record is positive, with Denzel reflecting on his own constructive mental health in ‘X Wing’ and ‘Angelz’ serving as a eulogy to the greats that came before him, forcing the rapper to reflect on his own comeuppance. ‘John Wayne’ and ‘The Smell of Death’ tap into a neo-soul beat (the former cooked up by collaborator JPEGMAFIA) while ‘The Last’ is graced with a $uicide Boys-esque flow, Denzel half-singing the horror-trap verse that waxes bluntly about police corruption, abject homelessness and regularly living one’s “last day” in the US. What stands out about this album is Denzel Curry’s unequivocal ability to combine the triplet bars and laidback candour of mid-‘90s Nas and Pharcyde with the trap cadence and progressive production nuances of 2022. It feels like an album not caught in time, instead spanning and encompassing it, acknowledging his lifelong influences while riffing off the modern desire for escapism and freedom from trauma.
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