Imperial

Imperial

by Denzel Curry

CD

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Overview

In the years between his 2013 debut LP, Nostalgic 64, and his sophomore set, Imperial, Denzel Curry evolved from a shadowy cult presence into a full-blown, game-ready voice. While hints of this direction were already present on Nostalgic -- a few subtly catchy hooks and a lyrical dexterity ahead of his peers -- Imperial presents Curry as a figure set to dominate his contemporaries with sheer skill and personality. Like Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar, the Miami-based wordsmith is introspective and can be shockingly dark, with wordy bars compressed with lyrics that easily swerve from violent street-level snapshots to pop culture references aplenty. Take the autobiographical whirlwind "Story: No Title" for example: the mid-album highlight contains shout-outs to Fugazi, Kill Bill, Star Wars, Bebe's Kids, and Spongebob, woven through grim ruminations on gun violence and desperation. With his breathless delivery, it can be exhausting, but in an exciting, thrilling way. Some of the best hooks appear out of thin air, bubbling up unexpectedly between aggressive verses and latching onto listeners long after the song has ended (like "Sick & Tired" and the Rick Ross joint "Knotty Head"). "ULT" -- a reworking of his 2013 track "Ultimate" -- contains a hypnotic, anthemic chorus that kicks Imperial to life, bleeding into the popping "Gook." The complicated title is, according to Curry, Miami slang for "odd" or "not with in crowd," establishing his self-proclaimed position as an outlier and misfit. Considering the state of popular rap at the time of the album's release, Curry's focus on storytelling and clever lyrical wordplay indeed sets him apart from a pack more concerned with onomatopoeia and exclamations. Further distinguishing himself from peers, Curry also pays respect to his forefathers and hip-hop history, dropping a trio of stylistic throwbacks to close Imperial. Going toe to toe with Joey Bada$$ on "Zenith," Curry channels the spirit of the golden era with dense verbal volleys and some old-fashioned turntable scratching. "Good Night," featuring frequent collaborator Twelve'len on the bridge and a star turn from rapper Nell, invokes early-era Kanye production with the uplifting spirit of Kendrick's "Alright." On an album that lurks mostly in the shadows, it's a clear standout. Taut and perfectly paced at ten snapshots, Imperial is a promising and early triumph for Curry, whose versatility and talent have produced one of the best rap albums of 2017. ~ Neil Z. Yeung

Product Details

Release Date: 01/27/2017
Label: Loma Vista
UPC: 0888072019607
catalogNumber: 106
Rank: 30686

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Denzel Curry   Primary Artist
Steven A. Clark   Vocals
Steve Lacy   Vocals
Twelve'len   Skit
J. K. the Reaper   Vocals
Dj Chief Pound   Skit

Technical Credits

Frank Dukes   Producer
William Roberts   Composer
DJ Dahi   Producer
Nate Burgess   Engineer
Isaac de Boni   Composer
Adam Feeney   Composer
Jo-Vaughn Virginie   Composer
FNZ   Producer
Lino Martínez   Composer,Additional Production
Denzel Curry   Composer,Executive Producer,Art Direction
Steve Lacy   Composer,Producer
Rees Escobar   Art Direction
Paul Sledge   Composer
BloodPop   Producer
Lavares Joseph   Composer
Darnell Butler   Composer
Ronald Spence   Composer
Ronny J   Producer,Executive Producer
Devin Christopher   Art Direction
Nicholas Leone   Composer,Producer
Miami Zine Machine   Artwork
Curry Valencia   Composer
Lower East Coast   Executive Producer
Louie Arson   Cut
Shi Wun   Engineer

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