Simply put, Denzel Curry has all the biological makeup of what a rap star should be. Whether we’re talking a ball of burning gas or one of the leaders of the new cool, the 21-year-old lyricist by way of Carol City, Florida is leaving a trail of impact wherever he choses to plant his mic flag and do damage on the concert scene.
A couple of years back, he channeled the spirit of both Aquemini twins, mixed with a bit of swamp water and his love for video games on his breakout debut, Nostalgic 64 and his most recent offering, March’s Imperial, showcased a matured artist who could still mix societal perspective with the thought process of a budding male living in Black America.
When he stopped in the DXHQ, we decided to pick DC’s brain and gauge the inspiration of the foundation of his timeless raps.
HipHopDX: What’s your top 5 video games ever? Any system.
Denzel Curry: Any system? Let’s start from Nintendo because that’s pretty much the easiest. Smash Brothers, Double 007: Goldeneye, I like Turok, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Brothers.
DX: Isn’t Turok like a bootleg Goldeneye? Do you give props to that?
Denzel Curry: Nah, it’s just like Turok you can kill dinosaurs and shit. You got guns too. it’s crazy.
DX: What’s your other favorite system outside of Nintendo?
Denzel Curry Outside of Nintendo…shoot Xbox, the first Xbox.
DX: Got a top 5?
Denzel Curry:Top 5 for that? Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, I just remembered I played Bionicles games when I was young as fuck, what else what else. Damn, it’s kind of hard. Star Wars: Battlefront, The Warriors, and Grand Theft Auto.
DX: Jedi or Sith?
Denzel Curry: That’s a hard question.
DX:With Sith, you got all the power in the world…
Denzel Curry: Yeah, but you’re evil (Laughs).
DX: You got The Force and you got to stay focused.
D: Yeah, but they [only] get one lightsaber. They get red. You get a suwoo ass lightsaber you feel me. Then you get a Jedi you get to pick like ‘oh this lightsaber or that lightsaber.’ You got options, but it’s none of the options you really want. Probably green. I would probably go with green.
DX: That’s the OG. That’s the one Luke had.
Denzel Curry: Nah, Luke had blue first. He had blue first.
DX: It wasn’t his was it?
Denzel Curry: Nah because it was passed down it was Anakin’s lightsaber. From Revenge of the Sith when he got chopped up and Obi-Wan took his lightsaber and gave it to Luke, had it, lost it, then constructed a new lightsaber because he was training under Yoda and Yoda had a green lightsaber. That’s why he got a green lightsaber. I probably would…Sith Jedi shit… can I be a Rogue?
DX: Yeah I was about to say you can create your own.
Denzel Curry: I would just be a Rogue. With a yellow lightsaber.
DX: The curry command. Bunch of vigilantes with lightsabers.
Denzel Curry: Not even, the ultimate reinforcements.
DX: With a name like Denzel, do you feel like you were destined for stardom?
Denzel Curry: Nah, I just thought it was a black ass name. (Laughs.)
DX: There’s only one Denzel to “live up to.” He’s a big movie star.
Denzel Curry: Yeah, Denzel Washington. I fuck with his movies.
DX: Top 5 Denzel Washington movies?
Denzel Curry: Mo Better Blues, Malcolm X, Training Day,, John Q,, and shit, what else? Book of Eli!
DX: American Gangster with the snub.
Denzel Curry: American Gangster was pretty cool but most of his movies have like either the same endings like he ‘gon die or go to jail. (Laughs.)
DX: We’ll have to get on that.
Denzel Curry: For real though. Malcolm X, died, and went to jail. John Q, went to jail, Training Day, died. What else? Book of Eli, died. (Laughs.)
DX: Spoiler alert!
Denzel Curry: It’s true, though.
DX:DX: Man on Fire!
Denzel Curry: Died! (Laughs.)
DX: (Laughs.) I love that you’re really in tune with this pop culture thing. You just dropped a nice heater that gets your fans amped. What’s it like when you perform “Ultimate” in real life?
Denzel Curry: Shit, I just become a different person I just go into a different mood. I don’t feel like Denzel. We’ll play ‘Threats” before we’ll play “Ultimate,” and then I’ll like ‘wait wait, hold the fuck up, I don’t feel like this, I feel like this,’ and then that’s when we’ll be like ‘oh like this?’ Then I just totally switch into a different mood, into god mode.
DX: Like a Rogue Jedi.
Denzel Curry: Not even. Not even, when it comes to “Ultimate,” it’s more like a Dragon Ball Z type of thing. I go Super Saiyan on they ass.
DX: Top 5 Dragon Ball Z characters?
Denzel Curry: Top 5 Dragon Ball Z characters? Okay, Goku, Broly, Teen Gohan, Trunks is hard to, Future Trunks is hard, I don’t like Kid Trunks. Future Trunks is hard and damn I ain’t gon say Vegeta he a bitch.
DX: Vegeta with the snub.
Denzel Curry: Yeah, I’m going to go with Piccolo because they want to make Piccolo black but he’s green.
DX: You kind of get the sense that he’s African-American.
Denzel Curry: He’s black. I’m pretty sure he’s black they just didn’t want to say nothing about it.
DX: Word up.
Denzel Curry: He’s mean all the time, he’s black.
DX: [In] 2016, what does it mean to be a rap star in your opinion? You’re from Carol City, releasing your mixtapes, keeping your head on the ground and not getting into to much rap controversy. Here you are, touring the globe.
Denzel Curry: To be honest, like to be a rapper at this day in age I don’t even feel like a rapper because there’s so many people saying like ‘this is rap, this is not rap, etc.’ and they try to classify our generation as not rap so niggas want to say our shit’s not rap, it’s not rap. It’s art. In this day and age of being a rapper I would say I would rather not be a rapper and just be an artist and do everything.
DX: I get that. At the same time you’re more classified as the lyrical breed then some of your contemporaries. What are your thoughts on that?
Denzel Curry: Very accurate. I would say it’s accurate. I get turnt with my lyrical shit but it’s very accurate that my stuff is lyrical because when you take the beat out, it’s pretty much something you can learn from and not something you can turn up to, even when I’m yelling.
DX: What propels you do that because I know like messing around in the studio, you guys probably played around and made a turn up record that you just never dropped. What propels you not going that route and making the music that you make?
Denzel Curry: Shoot. Just making like turn up shit?
DX: Yeah some easy peasy you know. Went to Subway, made my day, with a banging trap beat you might have a hit on your hands you might go number one on the charts.
Denzel Curry: Yeah but I want to make shit that if it’s gon be turnt, I want you to at least learn from it as well you know what I mean? That’s why I generate more truth than fiction when I’m writing and then I just want people to have fun to it as well because you don’t want to be at a concert and the person just rapping, rappity rap rap and everybody just like yeah, they wouldn’t want to come back know what I mean? I want people to come back and feel that experience, feel that energy so I put a lot of passion, a lot of lyricism, a lot of truth, in myself and within the records I do which turns out to be that and I always been hyper since I was a kid like you can ask my managers, my friends. If you would’ve met me like four years ago, bro, you would’ve been like ‘dog, I can’t invite this nigga to my crib’ type shit.
DX:You like the type to break a coffee table?
Denzel Curry: Nah, not the type to break a coffee table. I’m just like Bugs Bunny. I’m over here one minute, and over here the next minute and just like bouncing off the fucking wall.
DX: It reflects in your music, it really energizes people you know back to the song “Ultimate,” it energized the whole culture of memes. What are your reactions to all the vines and all the fifteen-second clips of “Ultimate?”
Denzel Curry: They kind of funny because I made this a year ago like top of last year, February 24th. To see what it did now is kind of funny as hell because it was just like ‘damn, this shit been out,’ but people just now catching on to it which because people feel like their “Ultimate.” I feel like this is a blessing that all of this is happening. It’s bringing more attention to myself, and my music and my art form so I can be able to generate more stuff for the people who been paying attention from that one song.
DX: I think in this day in age that’s considered a classic song. It transcends through the Internet and transcended into pop culture. Usually, classic songs are ones that usually go platinum from years past with everybody behind you on the wall and nowadays you know, you made it to meme culture, you might have a classic on your hands.
Denzel Curry: Yeah, I mean it’s the Internet age. Everything’s digital so even albums are digital, people don’t really buy CD’s anymore. I would say you’re accurate about that.
DX: Top 5 CD’s that you bought as a kid, during high school.
Denzel Curry: During high school? Or just in general?
DX: You still buy CD’s?
Denzel Curry: My first two CD’s I bought was Food & Liquor, by Lupe Fiasco andThe Cool — I didn’t buy Lasers.
DX: I don’t think he would blame you.
Denzel Curry: (Laughs.) Alright, I bought Illmatic. I heard It Was Written when I was younger and my friend gave me a CD of ‘It Was Written and it was cool, pretty fire. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzikby Outkast, and Goodie Mob, which is Goodie Mob’s Soul Food.
DX: Does it irk you knowing that you coming from that generation? You might have fans that gravitate towards your music or make memes of your songs but they’ll never ever sit and look through the album booklet of Imperial, they’ll never have to worry about passing it to their girlfriend and losing the CD or having to wipe off the scratches and everything. Do you think we’re losing out in that sense?
Denzel Curry: No, ‘cause everything’s going to keep advancing. I mean think about it, we came from an 8-track player and then you know to cassette, and then from cassette to CD. Now we’re in a new age where it’s all MP3. Eventually, that’s going to transition into something else. I don’t think we’re losing the touch or the feel of having CD’s any more, CD’s is gon be around. You watch a video tape become a DVD, and then a DVD eventually become a Blu-Ray, to us watching it on the screen. We went from watching movies outside to watching movies inside in the theaters, to 3D IMAX you get what I’m saying? Everything is gon keep advancing. So I don’t think we’re losing out or losing touch or anything it’s just certain things become obsolete. Even like rappers become obsolete to a certain degree like you see how people like, rappers in the ‘80’s sound like compared to a rapper in the ‘90’s, compared to a rapper in the 2000’s and now we’re in the like 2010’s and you see how rappers formulated a culture where everybody just sounds like totally different because of mixed genres that they was influenced by and they was like you know what, let me experiment and see what I can do instead of doing a traditional route. Everything is gon keep advancing. So I don’t even that like it’s a thing for people to be like ‘oh, I miss scratching off CD’s.’ When I look at it, I hated fucking wiping off the CD’s every time and then when it scratched, I have to buy a whole new CD. Fuck all of that. I’m tired of hearing scratches…
DX: That’s how rappers used to get rich.
Denzel Curry: Exactly. I understand that but now people can do it in a digital age where they could buy stuff off of iTunes, or they could listen to it or monetize they stuff on Soundcloud, or get it off of YouTube. All of that works you feel me? That’s still a way of generating money. The tours never get old. Tours will never get old so that’s another way because they could still have that experience so that memory of getting close or to their favorite artist or getting clothes that they bought from the concert and telling they kids like that’s never going to change. That’s been happening since the ’80’s and Van Halen and all of them and having tour tees and everybody going crazy at shows that’s still happens today that won’t even be obsolete. Everything else from the CD, the CD would be obsolete because we’re in the age of the auxiliary.
DX: Definitely, I agree. Evolution is key. As your celebrity, as your legacy, as your lure continues to grow back home, what’s it like for you?
Denzel Curry: Shit crazy. ‘Cause a lot of people that I seen that didn’t have belief in me now fuck with my shit like heavy and people that didn’t even know I came from there was like proud to say that ‘oh, this persons from where I’m from so I can believe I can do it to’ and that’s what I want to keep doing, keep inspiring the kids.
DX: Absolutely, absolutely. What’s going on in the state of Florida? They’ve always had their gun problems and everything but I just saw a report that a teen club just got shot up, that precedes…
Denzel Curry: That was in Orlando, I think. I think you’re talking about the…
DX: Yeah, and then there was the gay club in Orlando as well. Is there a gun problem in the streets in Florida from your perspective?
Denzel Curry: From my perspective, I mean everybody carries guns.
DX: In every state right?
Denzel Curry: Exactly. I don’t think it’s the gun problem, I just think it’s the person behind the gun who has a problem. You get what I’m saying? I don’t think it’s the gun ‘cause I could lay a gun right here and it wont go off, it won’t shoot nobody, but if I’m mentally like unstable, and I pick up a gun, that’s when shit gets hectic. It’s really having an exam of the person and not the gun because people are paying attention to the wrong thing. The guns not going to kill people, people kill people, because of the stability of they mental issues.
DX: Absolutely, I agree, I agree. Fade us out to the top 5 Denzel Curry songs that we need to be listening to right now. I’m putting your discography in the EP.
Denzel Curry: Okay: “This Life,” “ULT,” “Gook,” “Zone 3,” and “Ultimate.”
DX:Real quick on that. When we reviewed Imperial and everything, we were talking about “Gook” and a commenter pointed out that it’s like slang in Florida. For being lame I think?
Denzel Curry: Yeah, pretty much.
DX:How’d that flip you know like I thought “Gook” was like communist talk for Vietnamese?
Denzel Curry: Niggas just be like “oh, fool a gook man, I don’t want him around me’ or like [he] gookin’ I don’t want him around me.’ I’ll just be myself, people call me a gook all the time and I was just like if you really think I’m a gook because I’m being myself, well fuck it, I’m a gook. What the fuck you gon say about me now? Like I don’t give a fuck.
DX: Soon as the rest of the world starts saying gook are you guys going to retire like Atlanta did the dab?
Denzel Curry: Oh nah, man. “Gook” is always going to be gook man. You a gook, you a gook. That’s how it is, I just accept it.