Two years ago today, Denzel Curry released TA13OO, his third studio album and most successful release of his career. Spanning 13 tracks, it was the most ambitious project of Curry's young career. Most knew Curry loosely from the occasional viral hit like Ultimate, but for many like myself, TA13OO was the first complete experience of Curry as a rapper. It was an incredible piece of work, and remains that way two years later.
Split up into three acts, the album touches upon everything one could want from a rapper. As a whole, the piece is an introspective look into the deepest recesses of Curry's mind. It's a dark journey communicated through three sections that has a little bit of everything for everyone. What stands out the most is how many different sounds he explores throughout, but listening to it as a whole, nothing feels out of place. I wouldn't believe you if you told me the smooth R&B melody of BLACK BALLOONS came from the same album, much less the same artist, as the raging, angry anthem that is BLACK METAL TERRORIST.
The pace gradually increases as you work your way through it. TA13OO starts off the album as a floaty but depressing lyrical adventure and ends with Curry going after mumble rappers who glorify painkiller abuse. The most powerful lyrics of Curry's young career come from CLOUT COBAIN and CASH MANIAC. There really isn't a weak spot throughout the album. Each song has its own unique pace and message it gets across. Even the features are outstanding. JID's verse on SIRENS is an all-time great one for me, and JPEGMAFIA on VENGEANCE was a match made in heaven.
It's also delightfully strange. Curry is a weird dude and he's proud to own it. He makes Prince Zuko and Chowder references in SUMO. Dragon Ball Z easter eggs can be found scattered throughout all of his work, not only TA13OO. But despite rapping about Nickelodeon shows, Curry's message about the darkness within lands closer to home than most of us would like to acknowledge.
This is one of my favorite albums of all time. Listening from start to finish is always a rewarding journey, and every song is good enough to listen to on its own, with a good choice for every state of mind. I certainly think it belongs in the discussion of one of the best albums of the last five years, hard stop. It's hard to make something that both sounds great and delivers a powerful message. TA13OO does just that. It'll be tough to top it when Curry releases his next full album, but I have faith he can.