When Billboard final spoke to Denzel Curry, he was stone-cold silent on any particulars of what his subsequent reside present would look, sound or really feel like -- however you needed to know it might be particular. He had simply launched TA13OO, not solely his most completed mission so far and one of the impactful and introspective hip-hop information of the yr, but in addition a piece that lends itself to the visible. That a lot was clear with the fraught movies for “Clout Cobain” and final month’s “Vengeance," and together with manic options from JPEGMAFIA and a cleaver-wielding ZillaKami. So there was lots to work with for a reside rendering which Zeltron dropped at New York’s Gramercy Theatre on Tuesday evening (Oct. 10), for 2 reveals.
Gramercy is an oddly laid-out house, an outdated theatre with seats above and an open ground beneath, and on the sold-out early present, that ground was already packed for opening units by North Carolina’s J.Okay. the Reaper, the rapid-fire Curry protégé and kindred spirit (their affiliation dates again Curry’s Nostalgic 64 debut in 2013), and underground warfare canine City Morgue. “Fiery” doesn’t do justice to their efficiency, which was hearth, with Sos consistently exhorting the gang to “open this shit up” and type a mosh pit. They complied. Then, it was Zel time.
Like the album that impressed it, the TA13OO reside present is specified by three acts, a curtain opening and shutting on a video display earlier than every, and leads off just like the document: “Welcome to the darker facet of taboo,” Denzel sang as he emerged, in a white tee and purple pants, for the soulful, easygoing title monitor that belies life classes and emotional scars, adopted by the tuneful “Black Balloons," the gang singing in unison with its irresistible “let it float” refrain. On the LP, that hook is sung by Denzel and his Florida homie Twelve’Len, however on this evening it was given a extra muscular take, with Curry shouting these phrases together with himself on monitor.
It additionally shortly turned obvious that together with Denzel, the opposite star of this present could be its visuals, notably the work of Baltimore artist Kyle Yearwood, a self-described “architect of realities." For “Ta13oo” the backdrop was trippy -- flowers, panthers, blimps and sure, black balloons, a picture which might floor quite a few instances all through the evening, most memorably in a single stark, spooky shot of Zeltron holding a bunch of them, a la Pennywise. Next got here two from Nostalgic 64, “Parents” and “Denny Cascade," the druggy, mid-tempo monitor illustrated on display by a wild-eyed Zel over kaleidoscopic designs. For a drug-free man, Act 1’s visuals have been lots psychedelic.
“How a lot of you've got heard TA13OO?” Curry requested. The room erupted. “Now, what number of of you've got really spent cash and purchased it?” he added, little doubt figuring out the reply. A smattering of cheers. Points for honesty, at the very least? No worries -- funds are apparently not an issue for Denzel, a reality emphasised in “Cash Maniac” -- and within the boastful “Sumo," which had Curry getting actually aggro for the primary time within the evening as a picture of his face spitting up performed behind him.
Act 2 assorted thematically, however it started by taking up the haters. “U-L-T! U-L-T!” the 500-strong Gramercy crowd chanted because the acquainted intro to the 2016 Imperial’s lead monitor performed. “This is the wrath of Aquarius,” Zel declared as he returned to the stage (one of many rapper’s many fixations is his astrological signal).
“Switch It Up” adopted, the entice standout from TA13OO, with a lead verse on which Curry goofily borrows from Hamlet and which frantically provides voice to bipolar dysfunction and pretend pals: “They solely know Denzel Curry/But they don’t actually know Denzel." And there’s the rub, because the Prince of Denmark would say: Zel’s solely starting to determine himself out. How might we presume to know him? And lastly for his critics, there was “Mad I Got It.” Cue Denzel behind bars on display, in a Hannibal Lecter masks and flanked by ringmasters in clown face.
The part acquired topical with TA13OO’s most political monitor, “Sirens,” by which Zel rails about police shootings, the political system, violence, Trayvon Martin and his late brother Tree. There was “Black Balloons 2," a Flying Lotus collab that can seem on the ingenious L.A. producer’s subsequent album, and eventually, the distinctive “Clout Cobain,” backed after all by scenes from that unforgettable music video.
What was left however to go more durable? That’s what Zel’s Act three delivered: “Gook” from Imperial and “Percs,” his TA13OO shot-across-the-bow to a few of his extra proudly “ignant” drug-celebrating contemporaries whose outrageousness so usually appear to suck up all of the media oxygen. Tonight, to strengthen the purpose, it was punctuated by photographs of a geeked-out Denzel, coffins and skeletons. There was a pause to get actual and honor XXXTentacion, and we acquired “I’m Sippin Tea in Yo Hood” and “Look at Me” earlier than the depth returned: 2015’s flailing “Ultimate," which can have gotten the largest crowd of response of the evening, and the ferocious “Black Metal Terrorist,” for which Zel shaped a mosh pit of his personal. “Finish em Zel!!” it cries. And he did…virtually.
There was even a video curtain raiser for the encore, the fierce “Threatz” and, to complete, “Vengeance” -- for which he was joined by a crew of 15 on stage, not least the madman ZillaKami, who delivered his verse and extra, pacing forwards and backwards like a caged animal. As for Denzel, even at his most vengeful, there’s one thing welcoming and inclusive about him now, which brings to thoughts that line in “Cash Maniac”: “Balance my chi now, I’m feeling implausible.” It reveals. TA13OO is an enchanting doc of an artist wanting inward, creating extra compelling work as he grows. That’s the way it’s presupposed to work, isn’t it?
During a fast post-show hey, Zel’s supervisor approached to let the rapper know that he’d be happening within the late present round midnight. “You’re up for 2 reveals like that, again to again?” I requested. “Yeah,” he shrugged. “Of course. I’m Denzel.”