Higher Calling
Denzel Curry aims to make a radical change in hip-hop with his Ta13oo album.
Words: Georgette Cline
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Two years ago, Denzel Curry hit the hip-hop mainstream with his appearance on the 2016 XXL Freshman cover and since then, the 23-year-old Florida native has been on a quest to deliver rhymes with substance and preserve lyrical dexterity while mumble rap flourishes.

Now, Denzel is entering the next phase of his career with the forthcoming release of his third studio album, Ta13oo, which features the hard-hitting FnZ-produced track “Percs.” With additional production from the likes of DJ Dahi and Ronny J, among others, and collaborations with J.I.D and singer Billie Eilish, to name a few, the MC is challenging the status quo across 13 tracks.

Zeltron 6 Billion caught up with XXL to discuss his upcoming opus and creating radical change.

On “Percs,” you tackle the current drug culture in hip-hop as well as being a slept-on artist. Why choose that song to kick off this new album?

If you look at the game and currently how it is, like, not enough lyrical MCs get their shine. It’s cool that we’ve got [Lil] Uzi [Vert] and Trippie [Redd] and even 6ix9ine and Lil Pump and everything. I respect their work. I respect them as artists, but when the whole game is oversaturated with pretty much people copying them and doing the same thing and all that stuff that’s deteriorating the culture... I feel like something needs to be said.

What’s the inspiration for Ta13oo?

There’s a lot of things and a lot of topics that we don’t talk about like, just as a people or with yourself or with your family. There’s certain things that are taboo and certain things that you don’t like to talk about and I go through the whole thing of really examining who I was from my childhood and from this newfound fame and even losing it to a certain degree, like, me falling off to really reflect on myself. Just expressing myself about how I feel about the whole game and how my life is going, and if I keep going down the path that I was going, and if I keep going down the path that I was going I would end up being the person that’s not giving a fuck or conform to what’s happening.

J.I.D is featured on “Sirens.” What can we expect from this collab on the LP?

Well, me and J.I.D, we both killed it. Billie Eilish is on the song too. She sings the hook. I wrote the hook for the song and Billie Eilish resung it for me ’cause originally I was singing on it. I did the record to really talk about what’s really happening in politics, what goes unnoticed when you see things as a distraction and everything.

Not too long ago you wrote, “Watch me change the rap game” on Twitter. How are you going to do that?

I’m gon’ cause a radical-ass change in the rap game. Everybody wanna touch on the subject but ain’t nobody doing [anything] about it except for people like Kendrick [Lamar] and all them; they’re pushing the envelope constantly. I’m gonna make sure out of this new generation, everybody talking ’bout pushing the envelope and end up doing the same shit that everybody else doing, but I’m really gonna push the envelope. And first things first, I gotta break a few eggs in order for that to change.

Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2018 issue including our 2018 XXL Freshman Class, interviews with producer Tay Keith and Power star Joseph Sikora a.k.a. Tommy and more.

See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Denzel Curry at the 2016 XXL Freshman Class Cover Shoot