2016 has been generous with its share of rap music releases; here we have Denzel Curry’s sophomore album Imperial that’s spearheading the hip-hop releases so far this year.
The past year has been turbulent for the upcoming rapper, particularly departing from Miami-based rap collective Raider Klan. Then followed an ugly, social media based grilling from SpaceGhostPurrp – leader of Raider Klan. This fuelled Denzel Curry’s fire and turned him into a lyrical monster with the ferocity of a thousand angry Spartans. This is particularly noticeable on tracks like the vicious ‘Sick and Tired‘, lead single ‘ULT‘, as well as ‘Gook‘.
Curry’s lyrical flows are consistent throughout this entire album, the speed of his flow is very similar to Busta Rhymes, Twista, and Ghetts. It’s a wonder how someone as young as Curry can demonstrate this amount of lyrical dexterity. At this rate, he could well hone his craft to become Florida’s hottest export.
The vocal contributions on this album are absolutely on point too. Be it Joey Bada$$ on the reminiscently old school sounding ‘Zenith‘, Twelve’len smooth vocals on tracks ‘Pure Enough‘ and ‘If Tomorrow’s Not Here‘, or even an admittedly great verse by Rick Ross on ‘Knotty Head‘.
The production on this album is incredible; crisp, clear beats that bring the vocals to life. A mixture of ambient soundscapes with some heavy, hard hitting beats and foundation shattering bass lines – these tunes are built for any occasion. The most consistent tracks in – terms of production – are the album’s highlights: ‘Pure Enough’, ‘This Life‘ and ‘ULT’ – produced by Curry, Ronny J, and FNZ.
It’s hard to fault this album because of its production and lyrical dexterity. The only constructive criticism would be the lack of diversity in Denzel’s flow. This may sound contradictory, but his flow can repetitive and predictable. However, Curry is still finding himself and is broadening his scope. With time to explore different vocal styles, he could soon be celebrated on a worldwide scale.
Is Imperial going to change the course of hip-hop? No of course not; the album doesn’t have the capabilities that To Pimp A Butterfly unleashed last year. What can be said is Imperial is the most consistent, reminiscent, smooth yet intense hip-hop release of 2016. Denzel Curry is just finally finding his true potential.