Review: Denzel Curry’s Imperial

Imperial comes off as one of the most hard hitting rap albums of the year, as Denzel Curry successfully fits the aggressive delivery of his previous works and incorporates it into Imperial in a way that supports the overall themes of the work.

Released on March 9, Imperial presents itself with two tones. The first half of the project is incredibly abrasive and doesn’t take any breaks from being assertive and in your face, while the latter half feels dense but takes a toned down approach towards the subject matter.

The track “ULT,” one of two lead singles from the project, starts off the LP and instantly locks the listener in for the pandemic style that Curry’s lyrics deliver. The energetic beats spat by the young rapper are complemented by the eerily misty synths and a booming bass.

As soon as Curry starts spitting over the instrumental, his mission statement is clear: to prove he is better than the rest. Curry refers to himself as “ultimate” throughout many tracks—and there’s no better way to put it.

“Knotty Head,” the second of the two singles, features a fitting cameo from the infamous Rick Ross. It’s backed up with a compelling dreamy synth laced throughout the song as Curry drops his lines with a vigorous yet laid back style.

Curry continues to show off his artistic range in songs like “If Tomorrow’s Not Here,” which features some intoxicating guitar riffs loitering their way through a funky bass melody and a smooth chorus that is sung by Twelve’len. The rapper flexes his talents in the track by explaining how he’s gone from uncertain to more than confident in regards to his abilities as an artist, and how he doesn’t need to lead his own success alongside that of anyone else.

“Narcotics” touches on issues of racial profiling as Curry voices his frustration with the far-from-reality perspectives of white people towards the black community—that the African-American community is saturated in drug culture and is violent in nature.

Curry attempts to tear these prejudices down by celebrating his culture. Knowing that Denzel Curry went to the same high school as Trayvon Martin in Carol City, Florida, it is clear that the product of the track drives the point of addressing these racial tensions. It starts to seem like the murder of the young teen heavily influences Curry’s craft, as he emphasizes the impact racism has had on his community.

From the track “Gook”—quick and unapologetically ruthless from start to finish—to “This Life”—introspective towards the kind of changes that the rising MC faces—Curry stretches his talents all over this LP. It’s difficult to compare his unique style to anyone in the industry today.

While Curry may not be the only aggressive hip-hop rapper to take the stage as of recent time, he certainly is one of the most intriguing and passionate artists to stand out in recent rap history.

If you haven’t given a proper listen to Imperial yet, you should board the next boat into Denzel Curry’s world. He’ll throw you around for awhile and rub you face in the dirt before dropping you off right back where you started. I swear you’ll be full of newfound respect.

The Brit and The American Football Dream »

« PBHT 54: The Olivier Hinse Edition