Up and coming South Florida native, Denzel Curry, can be described as a vocal embodiment of a highly charged and very much changed generation on the rise in the current state of Hip-Hop. While most of the industry spotlight remains obsessed (and confused) with motivational speeches from critically acclaimed artists, the new phenomenon of privilege that is white-girl-twerk, and the hot/cold, hard/soft dichotomies of R&B-Pop infused coo-rap versus debaucherous trap-chant minimalization, it was important to approach the young DC without pretense. After entering The Source offices rather relaxed, Denzel Curry’s pocket of energy couldn’t help from bursting after a 3-hour stroll through the Rotten Apple. We sought to find out how Denzel Curry has been coming into his own.
The Source: So Denzel Curry… The government or the stage name?
Denzel Curry: Both. Aye, everyone is going to respect you when have your real name, you feel me? And plus, I didn’t feel like coming up with a rap name so I was like, f*** it, Denzel Curry sounds cool enough.
S: Alright, so let’s get to the source. Tell me what your household was like.
DC: My parents were always arguing but they would try to find way to come to the middle. I had like four brothers and s***, so you know how that goes. Brothers fighting each other and s***. I had four older brothers, so I’m the fifth child. Yup, the last one.
S: How was high school?
DC: High school was live as f***, the last two years. The first two years sucked and I hated it because nobody liked me. I went to this old artsy-a** school called DASH. Then I got kicked out and I went to Carol City. I liked Carol City better, plus they started a music appreciation program. When I started to progress and grow, the kids at my old school were acting fake. It was really funny. But, that’s why I like my last two years of high school because I could relate to most of the kids there.
S: On “N64”, you have the interlude of a newscaster reporting on a Miami Carol City High School demonstration protesting the killing of Trayvon Martin back in March 2012
DC: Yeah, that actually did happen. The kids were doing a rally in the back of the school and next thing you know, they were like f*** it, let’s take it to the streets and they took it to the streets. The next day, we all came in black hoodies and I did a drawing for Trayvon Martin. We were protesting because everyone knew that was wrong, you feel me? And that’s still a kid at the end of the day.
Two of his friends are my close friends. They always used to bump my s*** when they were with Trayvon. Trayvon was a fan of Raider Klan at the time, before he passed.
S: What was your reaction?
DC: At first, I didn’t understand it. I was just angry and I created a whole tape behind it called Strictly 4 My RVIDXRZ, dedicated to Trayvon. That whole thing was just so bad, it fueled that fire, and caused me to speak about that s***.
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S: The vibe that I get from Nostalgia64 is this cause-and-effect flow. Considering the concept of nostalgia alone, you immediately take listeners to the “Zone 3”. Where is the nostalgia for you?
DC: That old feeling? Just seeing a lot when I was growing up. Like, seeing one of my cousins die. He got killed in Zone 4. And that was really at a turning point in my life when I was thirteen. Being able to speak about that, I’ll do it for him and anyone else who have fallen. One of my homies, PJ, ended up getting killed across the street from my Auntie crib. And all that stuff I remember. I just put it into my music.
S: Let me ask about race & class. How important is that in what you bring to Hip-Hop? What about in “Parents”? “Parents” seems specific to black communities.
DC: I’m not even going to sit there and front. Look at it like this: N****s want to go to the club. N****s want to spend their money. You should be spending that on your baby. That’s your responsibility. You’re a man now. But, you’re still acting like a little boy. And females, they’ve got to take better care of themselves so we can care.
S: With that, you have Dark & Violent. You have race in that as well. In part 1, which is just dark, one of the last lines is in “an all black prison”. But, then you get to that violent point in the song, clearly.
DC: “Mind stuck in an all-black prison. You think he give a f*** about the system?” – That was J.K. the Rapper. N****s just don’t give a f***, man. No consequence, they just do it because they’re in that moment. They’re like: “Yeah, I can rob a n****. Yeah, I can get this. I just want to get this money and live.” They’re trying to get a better life. They may not mean to do it intentionally, but they live by any means necessary, even if it means f***ing somebody over. That’s just the portrait.
S: What point does a violent release serve lyrically, in conjunction or opposed to reality?
DC: I want them to get the same thing they see in the movies. That’s why I make it all cinematic and violent at the same time. Kill Bill, for instance: getting payback, getting even. What I’m doing with stuff like Dark & Violent is showing that dark world that some people live in, some people die from, or end up in jail because of it. I feel like the lyricism has to be on point when I do that because it really shows. This is reality. This is what is happening today.
S: Between drug references and the street culture, what style would you classify your rap as, now that you’ve separated from Raider Klan?
DC: I just do me: Everything that I do is really my personality and how I act. If I get angry, you’re going to hear “Live This S***” or “Threatz”. If I’m happy and having a good time, you’re going to hear some s*** like “Denny Cascade” or “Like Me.” That’s pretty much how I can put it: It’s all emotion at the end of the day.
S: Your music is really personal. When you’re performing in New York, does it matter if they get the message?
DC: It’s both really, that they support and that they get the message. I could’ve had no supporters that night. But people still came, so that means they already heard the message. They liked the s*** I’ve been doing so, of course they’re going to come through. Not to sound cocky but it’s real. If they like something, they’re going to support it.
S: Anything else you’re working on?
DC: We’re actually working on Planet Shrooms right now. That s*** is going to be epic as hell.
Grab my album here https://t.co/YMkitkd4po
— Denzel A.K.Curry (@RavenxMiyagi) November 29, 2013
Interview By: Shiyah Trotman (@theshynative)