* TA13OO, and all the songs from it are typically stylized in capital letters. For the sake of convenience and legibility, I will simply refer to them as their titles, eg; Taboo.
Denzel Curry made the title of Taboo public knowledge for quite some time but since the release of his 13 EP last year he’s been mostly quiet on us, letting anticipation bubble for his next project. Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about this release is the decision made to release it in three parts, or “Acts” so to speak. Subtitled ‘Light’, ‘Gray’ and ‘Dark’ respectively, each shows a progression in tonality across the three days of release. This could also be Denzel’s way of extending his hype, in this day and age of streaming he allows himself to maintain relevance that little bit longer.
Veterans might be disarmed by the album’s title-track opener and then relaxed aesthetic of ‘Black Balloons’. The Twelve’len and Goldlink features breathe new life into the latter crafting a boppy, chill summertime hit. Something this sonically light-hearted is not a side of Denzel we’re familiar with but is something he pulls off largely without fault.
By the time we hit ‘Sumo’ things noticeably start getting darker, bridging the gap into Act 2. The beats are colder; his flows are sharper and harder hitting, and lyrically, Denzel has never been blunter and to the point. ‘Switch It Up’ couldn’t be a more accurate title, rapping about exposing the loyalty of fake friends but also symbolizing the sonic twist or turn that helm the album in a different direction.
Then again we turn a corner on ‘The Blackest Balloon’, arguably the bleakest cut on the album, before transitioning into the frenzied one-two punch of ‘Percs’ and ‘Vengeance’, Denzel determined to prove he’s still got bars before the album’s end. Mr. Zeltron 6 Billion also has a smart eye for features, utilizing the likes of JPEGMafia’s desperate wail on the heavyweight ‘Vengeance’, and J.I.D.’s somber voice sits quite snugly next to ‘Sirens’ poppy chorus, making the track a standout.
If Taboo was to be released as an individual project it stands to reason that the concept behind it might fall flat, but drawing attention to the three separate acts helps to highlight the spectrum of subject matter, a concept which is simple but effective in its payoff.
Not only does he put forward a great tracklist but Curry shows a remarkable amount of depth as an artist on Taboo. Each song brings its own unique sound to the table, and the progression in album tone is subtle but noticeable. Denzel Curry has come leaps and bounds in just a few years and is on his way to becoming one of our generation’s most talented rappers. Period.
Dre's Top Three:
- Black Balloons