Aris Chatman


denzel curry’s latest is a lesson in urgency

February 12, 2020
84 Picks

A lot of digital ink has been spilled over the close siblinghood of punk rock and hip-hop, but right now there’s no-one exemplifying that line better than Denzel Curry. The ludicrously prolific emcee recorded his latest project with producer Kenny Beats over 72 hours, and UNLOCKED burns with DIY fervor. Where far too many one-take wonders toss of lines like a casual middle finger to no-one, Denzel’s first-take-is-the-best-take mentality is all about preserving the urgency of the moment. The tracks are bursting with the energy of an 8’0s hardcore band, fitting for someone who spent much of 2019 releasing high-profile updates of classic punk songs. But nowhere is that clearer than on the standout single “Take_It_Back_v2.” Though the title betrays Zel’s ethos by declaring that sometimes the second take is actually the best take, the single is anything but worn down; it is a ball of shrapnel.


As if to remind you that, just because it was made quickly, that doesn’t mean it lacks ambition, the EP is strung together through a 25-minute short film that riffs on Tron by way of Japanese horror and retro gaming. Created by Psycho Films, the short runs through classic animation genres, exemplifying visually the same breadth of creativity as the music. In an era where fussed over perfection often sucks all the life out of the music, Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats have succeeded by embracing that most essential truth of punk rock: if the revolution’s not fun, it’s not worth having.