“Take a ride on my train of thought,” Denzel Curry raps on ‘Melt Session #1’, opening up his latest album Melt My Eyez, See Your Future. It sets the tone immediately, foreshadowing the unfiltered, open-book nature of the Florida rapper on this album. The aggression of projects like Imperial or Taboo is gone, and the fantasy-rich universes of Unlocked are nowhere to be found.
This album is the pure expression of a man, who had spent his time prior channelling his emotion into many monikers, and it’s been inspired by a journey of growth and change in his life. Extensive therapy sessions and the decaying state of society lead him to this point, where he doesn’t boil over but instead melts his prior vision. No longer are his feelings cloaked in a world of metaphor, but instead bare in the way he bears his soul, as he delves into his demons, spirituality, and evolution throughout the project’s 14 tracks. The title, sonics, and track names that appear on this album were things he’d mapped out around the release of Taboo before destiny took him on side quests, where the topics he conceptualised became reality. We, as consumers, have the privilege of hopping aboard Denzel’s train of thought, learning more about the decade-long hip-hop staple with every stop.
Celebrating the release of this album, Denzel and I hopped on a Zoom call to talk through the weathered world he walks through in this latest opus, and how new sounds, growth, and therapy helped pave his path.
‘Melt Session #1’ starts with you saying “take a ride of my train of thought,” setting the tone for the vulnerability throughout the album. Can you describe the process of finding your way on board this train of confessionals?
To be honest, therapy is what helped me find my way aboard the train, man.
I interpreted the process of melting your eyes as letting the chaos burn your prior outlook, so you can look upon the horizons of life in a fresh, experienced manner. Was that your direction with the concept?
When I first came up with the name for the album, I simply thought it was just a good name. But as time progressed, it became more and more about awareness. As I was finalising the album, I found that the title represented me melting people’s perception of who I am, and melting my views on society as a whole. The ‘See Your Future’ part is about self-discovery, which I found out later on. So it was like I had the titles, and they were defined by continuing to live life.
Do you think coming up with the title first was your subconscious manifesting the journey you were about to embark on?
For sure, not only did I jot down the title first, but the genres and topics I wanted to tackle as well. A lot of that stuff was manifested for this record.
You’ve mentioned that some of the genres you wanted to tackle included jazz, drum and bass, dancehall, and more, all of which have been used throughout history to uplift people, even through times of adversity. How do you take the darkness of life, and vibrantly present them?
It was a way for me to tackle a different direction from my previous work, and that was the sole inspiration at first. I wrote the idea for this record right around when Taboo came out, so I knew where I wanted to go. It just happened to lead me down this path.
This is a random reference, but Bring Me The Horizon’s lead singer Oliver Sykes once stated that going through adversity coming out on the other end made him want to stop screaming, and sing from the rooftops. Is that how you feel coming out of the aggressive sounds of a project like Taboo, and into this project?
I for sure relate to that because I remember hiding and disguising my trauma. On previous records, I would disguise them with alter egos, whereas on this project it’s just me. This way, more people can connect with the person I am.
On ‘Walkin’ you rap “Got in touch with my soul, treadin’ softly on a path down the rockiest road.” How have you learned to keep the footsteps balanced, when there’s so much unbalance around your journey?
It all comes down to finding your way, you have to be persistent no matter what because a lot of things are going to be thrown at you in life. The journey is never linear, and you have to convey that. Like, there’s always going to be ups and downs. You could be staring your goals dead in the eye, and get distracted by other things around you. Life moves you left and right, even when you’re trying to move forward.
‘Worst Comes to Worst’ finds you tapping into spirituality, where you tell God that the reaper can’t take you. How has your relationship with a higher power led to this growth?
That’s all we have at times. Especially when everybody’s dying and we’re on the verge of war, with riots going on, government problems, and insurgents. You gotta’ have faith at this point. Even with the fact of this project, and hoping it lands how I want it to land; I needed faith, and God by my side. You look at fighters like Muhammad Ali or Khabib Nurmagomedov, and you can tell their spirit is unwavering. It’s all about tapping in, and at one point, I hadn’t tapped in for a while.
A lyric that stands out in ‘Worst Comes to Worst’ is “They draw guns so how could lead erase me? I’m baffled.” It leads perfectly into the topics on ‘John Wayne’, where you delve into the darkness of gun violence and staying equipped yourself. How did the bewilderment of fear lead to wielding fearlessness?
With ‘Melt Session’ you’re introduced to Denzel Curry. On ‘Walkin’ I describe the world around me, as I travel through it. Then you have ‘Worst Comes to Worst’, where I explain that my soul will go to heaven if anything bad happens to me. I rap on that song “Worst come to worst, then I’m clutching a full clip,” because, in a bad situation, it’s their life or mine. That leads to ‘John Wayne’, where I go from staying safe to staying dangerous, because we’re in a world where police, who are supposed to protect us, are trying to exterminate us, because of this built-in racism they have and their ignorance towards people of colour. So, you have to keep a gun on you, because you’d rather get caught with it than without it.
‘The Last’ continues your commentary on the rocky road of life over the past few years. How do you stop the state of the world from melting your eyes in a way that numbs you to the pain, as opposed to allowing you to see things differently?
My eyes melting could send me blind, but we’re gonna get into that. As they’re melting, I see the truth for what it is. I see what’s going on around me. I see the injustices and the state of society over the past couple of years, where there’s a sickness that can kill us, but we can’t see it. We try to fight it over and over, but we still become victims, because we’re not aware of our own situation, when it comes to the space we live in, the smog and the air, and the lurking effects of global warming. It’s chemical warfare, where there are all these things happening at once that are messing up the world, and we ignore it every day. The pandemic was the one time we didn’t ignore it, and for the first time, everybody was worried about being clean in unison.
‘Mental’ finds you rapping “Whatever happens, happens, yeah I’m making it happen rappin.” Often I feel like when we’re going through something, we get stuck at the “whatever happens, happens”, letting life pass by us as we sit idly. What was the experience that led you to avoid this?
I noticed this through therapy, where I realised that when I’m in control of my actions, I’m making bad decisions. The “whatever happens, happens” part is about the outside world, where I just have to roll with everything the world throws at me. One of my favourite anime characters who played a large part in the vision for this project is Spike Spiegel, who on Cowboy Bepop, is always going with that same flow.
What was adjusting to therapy like for you?
It was hard for me to open up at first. It took a lot of prying from her, because I was very resistant at first, to the point where if it got deep, I’d get uncomfortable and not engage in the session. I had to learn to become comfortable with the discomfort, and when I got to the point where I realised I was in denial about a lot of things, I was able to sit down and understand what I was dealing with. It took a long time to turn over that new leaf, and when I did, I noticed that I wasn’t doing some of the same shit I used to do. Now, I voice my opinion, and it’s louder than ever.
In my experience, hitting those deep topics in therapy was incredibly confronting at first, because it was stuff I’d only said out loud when drinking too much. I feel like that was a point where my eyes started to melt, and I’d found new enlightenment.
I relate to that. I figured out the majority of stuff I was going through stemmed from childhood abuse that I experienced, and why women are my vice, as opposed to weed or drinking or stuff like that. I didn’t understand that at first and had to keep digging and digging until I found the source. It’s like mining for gold, where you have to dig up all of this shit before you find it. All the shit you find when digging, you have to tell this therapist in the session, and once it’s all out, you feel very sad, before you start to feel great.
Do you think therapy helps eliminate demons or assists you in controlling them?
It’s the ability to control them. One word that pops up a lot in sessions is ‘manageable’ because you have to manage this shit for life.
Is it easier for you to tell people outside of therapy what you’re going through now, instead of keeping it buried in that goldmine?
Yeah, I did a lot of work on that. There’s still a lot of stuff to work on, but that’s okay, because I’m doing it, and that’s the most important part. When I did Taboo, I delved into a lot of my shit, but I didn’t have the work I needed to do. I was dressing stuff up on that album because I was in the mindset of competing with everybody. Whereas now, I don’t give a fuck about competing. I just worry about my mental health, because if I don’t, I’m going to die.
Lastly, you’ve melted your eyes and allowed us fans to join you on this journey of growth. So now, what do you see in your future?
I don’t know where I’m going with my future, but what I do want to see is more success, more time to raise my child, and more ways to tune out the world. I also want to get really good at Muay Thai and become a black belt so I can instruct people, all while learning more about myself as the days come by.
Follow Denzel Curry here for more and stream the new album Melt My Eyez, See Your Future now.