Florida native Denzel Curry is best known for his energetic, aggressive, and danceable bangers that are appreciated by both casual fans and music reviewers alike. Curry is an A-list artist with an upward career since his 2015 breakout hit 32 Zel. His new album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, takes a turn in the introspective direction. Though the topics he covers are deeper and more interesting, his execution is flawed.
Lyrically, Curry’s penchant for one-liners is a double-edged sword; sometimes they are funny or powerful, other times they are duds. Less introspective tracks like “Ain’t No Way” give Curry the opportunity to shamelessly spit the hard bars he is known for, even if the track is not particularly meaningful. The line “Run the Jewels, ‘cause I kill a mic on any LP,” (“Run the Jewels” being the rap duo composed of Killer Mike and El-P) is one for the ages.
However, throughout the record he drops more cornballs than memorable, impactful lines. For instance, “Mental” has one of the LP’s strongest verses, but Curry fails to resist the low-hanging fruit that is the line, “these words are uttered like dairy cattle.” Humor has its place in music, but a pun like this (especially when not surrounded by other references to bovines or even farms) is not worth the distraction from the topic at hand.
Aside from this line, however, Curry’s repeated use of water-related imagery throughout the verse makes it especially vivid. On top of the song’s smooth, full beat with soothing vocal samples, Curry makes concise but compelling thoughts about his feelings when writing and about his place in history. The beautiful, soothing singing in the chorus keeps the track a calm, pleasant listen. Saul Williams’ spoken word poem at the end was beautifully written and compelling, although its irrelevance to the rest of the song and the album makes it seem like a contrived attempt to add depth to the project.
Curry’s recurring references to the album’s title also seem like a rather half-baked attempt to appear deep. He makes multiple references to his eyes melting in the first half of the album, but they do not recur in the back half. This, coupled with the fact that a good number of the tracks are more focused on flexing, gives the impression that Curry has one foot in and one foot out of the concept album boat. In the first song, the lines, “Being aware is my definition of melt / My eyes see imperfections within myself” give some meaning to his future references of melting eyes, but the concept is not fleshed out enough to be especially compelling.
An aspect that makes the project more cohesive is the praiseworthy production. Not only is it creative and pleasing to the ears, but it also provides sonic cohesion. Most of the songs fade into each other smoothly, which makes listening to the album in one sitting a rewarding experience. Songs like “Melt Session #1,” and “Walkin,” which are also lyrical highlights for Curry, feature more soothing vocal samples over funky trap beats, as well as some subtle bass sounds that bring a feeling of fullness to the sound. On the other side of things, more aggressive songs like “The Smell of Death” are crazy and surprisingly enjoyable, overwhelming production featuring an alarm sound and chaotic but cold jazz keyboards over a drum kit with open hi-hats.
“Sanjuro,” another aggressive, well-produced song, also has some great rhymes and memorable lines. The line “Told me to keep it PC / Nah, n****, I’ma let the mac pop” from “X-Wing” is another line that will rightfully stick with any listener, although the flow gets choppy and awkward at some points. His rhymes often feel like low-hanging fruit made to appear denser than reality, like on “Angelz” when he rhymes “validation,” “persuasion,” “meditation,” and “medication” together. His bars are rarely any denser than rhyming one or two syllables at the end of the line, which is below the standards of the current era’s better rappers.
Though Curry’s step out of his comfort zone is a worthwhile effort for him, the fact that his comfort zone is in a more aggressive style is evident throughout the record. His skills as a rapper, especially when he gets more introspective, do not seem up to par with top-tier rappers, but this album is memorable for its amazing production and Curry’s great one-liners. Curry’s ability to use a theme or an image multiple times also shines in a few spots, but his execution needs improvement. All this said, the album makes for an enjoyable listening experience and inspires excitement at the possibilities of Curry’s future as a rapper.