Denzel Curry Is Ready for What’s Coming

He obsessed over achieving independent stardom while tussling with childhood trauma and lofty expectations. But martial arts and therapy have renewed his outlook, and now, no one is safe. Drake and Kanye West included.

Denzel Curry Is Ready for What’s Coming

He obsessed over achieving independent stardom while tussling with childhood trauma and lofty expectations. But martial arts and therapy have renewed his outlook, and now, no one is safe. Drake and Kanye West included.

Denzel Curry looks out of place and it isn’t entirely his fault.

Amid the scrum of smug faces bustling about Sessions, the restaurant on the second floor of the Hard Rock Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, anyone who appears to be moving at a normal pace looks as if they didn’t get the memo to look busy, hungover, and pompous all at once. Still, as Curry briefly swivels to get his bearing, it is hard not to notice him. …

 

Though he didn’t blend with the sartorial elegance of his surroundings, his casual camel palette get-up was hardly eye-popping. But his signature style of dreadlocks, which can best be described as a series of jet black sand dunes, are even more captivating in-person than they are on-screen. The Dragonball Z parallels are impossible not to draw, though he lacks Goku’s hangtime. It feels somewhat as if a CGI character has just made its entrance into a live-action film.

Curry’s eyes eventually settle on his target—the breakfast table where we’ve been seated—and he makes his way over. His confused glances give way to reluctant flashes of a toothy grin; he’s happy to no longer be spinning in place, but perhaps not thrilled that his reward is two hours with a writer. Regardless, he bounds over and takes a seat as a dainty young lady, Emily*, introduces herself as the server. It doesn’t seem that Emily recognizes the multi-platinum-selling artist, and if she does, she’s quite skilled at discretion. Curry, however, slyly acknowledges that something about her piques his interest. Seconds later, he finds his opening.

Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft

*Emily’s name has been changed for privacy.

“Does that say Spooky Black?”

Emily, about to retreat from our table to tend to others, quickly takes steps back towards our table and squints her eyes, testing Curry to see if he’s trolling her. On the nametag pinned to her apron, below her given name, is another name in subtitle font: Spooky Black. “Yeah, I love him,” she says cautiously. Curry is in disbelief. He repeats the question. “You know ‘bout Corbin?” This time, opting for Spooky’s present-day moniker, which he updated in 2014. Emily reiterates her Corbin fandom and Curry’s toothy grin isn’t so reluctant anymore. He did not expect to be bonding with a complete stranger over one of 2010s rap internet’s most ironic obsessions—click here for context—yet here he was, genuinely geeked over the purity of this interaction.

Minutes later, Curry AirDrops her an invitation to a meet-and-greet he’s hosting that evening in Chinatown. Emily doesn’t promise that she’ll show up, but sincerely hopes to drop by. By this point, it’s wholly unclear who is the celebrity in this exchange.

“I’m 27, and I have three hits to my name independently. That’s great, but you got people on major labels with multiple, and it’s a struggle for me because I refuse to sell myself short."
Denzel Curry

A few moments later, Curry, impressed with his own gift of gab, playfully mocks the interaction. Oh my God, you know Corbin? Then, referencing his initial interest in Emily, he looks at me and smirks. “I called it.”

Denzel Curry is ready to cut through the bullshit. 

His patience for the superficial has worn thin, eroded over time by loss, gain, grief, and therapy. He finds little fulfillment in many of the things that often characterize success at this point in his career, and even less satisfaction in the low standards currently acting as driving forces in music. He was cast into the spotlight as a teenager, established himself as a star during the most tumultuous epoch of modern-day hip hop—the dubious SoundCloud era, during which experimental artists used free file-sharing websites to launch mainstream-level careers and movements—and has proven to have the staying power that many of his peers did not. Now 27 and on the other side of a pandemic that presented him with the most challenging emotional hurdles of his young life, he is completely uninterested in Denzel Curry the idea: the rapper, celebrity and ego of it all. Instead, he’s turned his mind’s eye to Denzel Curry the person. The result is his most pensive and revealing record to date, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, an album he’s been plotting since 2018. There’s an argument to be made that Melt My Eyez is the most complete record in his catalog. There’s an even stronger argument to be made that it is the best rap record released this year.

Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft
Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft
Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft
Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft
Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft
Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft
Photo Credit: Robert Ascroft