Denzel Curry’s hard-charging fourth album acts as a love letter to Southern Florida — Miami-Dade County in particular.
Following his critically-acclaimed 2018 album, “TA13OO,” Curry offers another solid body of work in the form of “ZUU.” Albeit short (12 songs spanning 29 minutes), “ZUU” covers a lot of ground, from intense songs such as “BIRDZ” to the glistening, infectiously-catchy club banger “WISH.”
“ZUU” sees Curry letting loose and making an album for fun. Contrary to the downtrodden and dark lyrics of the songs on his previous album, “ZUU” elicits a more positive image and is a worthy successor to the massively successful “TA13OO.”
What makes the album all the more interesting is that Curry freestyle'd on every song of the album.
The “CLOUT COBAIN I CLOUT CO13A1M” rapper sets the pace early on in “ZUU” with the bass-heavy and booming “ZUU.” The album's namesake song calls out police officers with Curry rapping “Where they serve and don’t protect, Place a bet on your head, Call your bluff and make a check, Guilty until innocent, Far as I know, I’m heaven-sent.”
The song primarily features Curry examining and celebrating the city he grew up in — Carol City, Fla. The album’s cover art includes a nod to the University of Miami, with all words being colored with the university’s signature green and orange. Curry’s convertible is also painted UM green.
“RICKY,” the first of two singles released early off of the album, is a solid track, but gets lost among the extremes of the album. In the perilous position of being after “ZUU” and before “WISH,” “RICKY” is a good filler but features nothing noteworthy compared to other songs on the album.
“BIRDZ” features Rick Ross and possesses the most complex and intriguing production of the album. With tornado siren sounds, distorted, heavy-hitting bass and Curry and Ross’ drug and violence-laced lyrics, “BIRDZ” is a three-and-a-half minute thrill ride. A tasteful salute to the late Nipsey Hussle, performed by Ross, makes its way into the second verse of the song.
Curry’s collaborative song with producer Tay Keith comes in the form of “AUTOMATIC,” a more low-key song that is defined by bass, trap hi-hats and a pitched-up synth riff. “AUTOMATIC” shows off Curry’s freestyling at its best. Curry’s vocals carry the outdated production, which sounded just a twinge too-2015 for an album by one of Florida’s most prominent rappers.
“SPEEDBOAT,” the second single of the album, sees Curry boasting his new money, jewelry and weapons — as well as professing his faith. Accented by a piano riff that keeps you on edge, “SPEEDBOAT” features some of the best lines of the album, notably “Word on the street, everything heat, Everything hot boy, Texas Pete.” The line, in addition to its superb delivery, carries a double meaning, with Curry alluding to the dangers of street life.
The album takes a quick breather during “BUSHY B INTERLUDE” and “YOO,” only to pick up right where it left in “CAROLMART.” Curry enlists the vocal help of Ice Billion Berg on the track. “CAROLMART” includes the most references to Curry’s home state and, like “AUTOMATIC,” features some of Curry’s best freestyling.
“SHAKE 88,” the ninth song of the album, falls into “RICKY” territory as a satisfactory filler. With no glaring issues in the song, “SHAKE 88” fulfills its role in “ZUU” but doesn’t contain anything spectacular. “SHAKE 88” does succeed, however, in making listeners feel as if they are driving around in Curry’s convertible, cruising down South Beach’s Ocean Drive.
The closer of the album, “P.A.T.” wrestles with “BIRDZ” for the busiest and loudest song of the album. With the help of PlayThatBoiZay, “P.A.T.” makes for a superb ending to the culmination of sounds that is “ZUU.” Dark lyrics and a sinister production close out Curry’s album with authority.