Confucius once said that real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. Unfortunately for him, self-reflection doesn’t seem to be a particular strength for our species these days – many of us are prone to ignoring hard truths, content with living in our bubble away from the news and reality we’re captive to. Does salvation really exist alongside our suffering? Or does knowledge simply bring a painful consciousness regarding things we cannot change?
On his long-awaited LP Melt My Eyez, See Your Future, Denzel Curry makes a strong case in favor of intense introspection, presenting listeners with a story of rapturous deliverance following years of meditative habits and inevitably facing himself. The album’s title is a direct reference to this – “Melt My Eyez” representing our own avoidant behaviors that ultimately harm us. “See Your Future” representing our shared humanity, the benefits of self-reflection, and the knowledge that we all have the power to better not only ourselves but the world around us. Inspired by “a combination of what’s going on right now in the world and Akira Kurosawa films with Toshiro Mifune”, Denzel Curry’s newest LP is his strongest yet, combining both classic and forward-thinking elements of hip-hop, jazz, and R&B into a modern masterpiece.
If nothing else, Melt My Eyez, See Your Future is an experimental yet refined release that synthesizes the strongest elements of the Miami rapper’s past six releases. With that being said, this record is difficult to really compare anything to, as Curry confessed to Loud and Quiet “I had to make those records first to make this one, I had to mature first. Back then, I was still trying to be the man, trying to be like my peers. I wasn’t playing the game right, I should’ve just been myself the whole time.” From the dulcet string swells and trap percussion on “X-Wing” to Kal Banx’s Keith Mansfield vocal harmonies on album single “Walkin”, Denzel Curry’s sound experiences a simultaneous reinvention and evolution that is truly in a lane of its own.
Shedding his personas in favor of something more intimate, Melt My Eyez, See Your Future is full of performances that see Denzel Curry taking incredible risks while at his most vulnerable. There’s a wide variance and versatility expressed in the record’s 14-song tracklist with some cuts being more mindful and others being more high-octane – but each is instilled with a unique energy not yet explored by the Florida rapper. After a decade of being one of hip-hop’s most respected artists, Denzel Curry delivers listeners an album that’s more than abrasive larger-than-life mixes and performances. Melt My Eyez, See Your Future weighs internal suffering, childhood trauma, grief, and depression alongside sociopolitical tensions – from Trayvon Martin to George Floyd and everything in-between and beyond. There’s a profound and tragic energy surrounding many of the album’s tracks, but like the sentiment expressed in the title, within their misery exist inspiring calls to action, reminders of long-awaited success, and blinding beams of optimism. We can see examples of this in the first verse of the Karriem Riggins-assisted “Angels”:
“I spent my whole career lookin’ for validation
Chasin’ women that use pussy for they persuasion
Chained to my vessel, saw freedom in meditation
Using medication would make the perfect escapist
They unprestigious, I got angels in my allegiance
My demons would look for sin like junkies feelin’ fiendish
The meanest streets I walk in, these size elevens I stalk
Not carin’ if I’m rich or if I’m surrounded by chalk
I could either live like Jay or die like Jah
Alhamdulillah, let Jehovah judge me on my flaws
My word is law, forever stick to the code
Stay bold and to switch it up when things grow old
All I have in this world is my heart and my soul
Lay my life down for it ’cause they both made of gold
Twenty-four karats, twenty-five and countin’, twenty-four hours
Days not promised, but for now, never send flowers”
Despite Melt My Eyez, See Your Future being a deeply personal record, the album’s political themes and dual optimistic/tragic outlook are only amplified by Denzel Curry’s guests. The album features a lot of them, sporting contributions from artists/producers including: Robert Glasper, slowthai, 454, 6LACK, Rico Nasty, J.I.D, Jasiah, T-Pain, Kenny Beats, Powers Pleasent, Darko, Cardo, Dot Da Genius, JPEGMAFIA, Kal Banx, Karriem Riggins, and Mike Hector. Their presence on Melt My Eyez, See Your Future is a powerful reminder that Curry isn’t alone in his personal struggles nor his grappling with the world at hand. If anything, the community he’s fostered since emerging over a decade ago is a testament to the success that he’s spent so much time ruminating on.
Gone are the halcyon Nostalgic 64 days, but maybe that’s a good thing. With a healthier sense of self and a career/artistry that only seems to improve, Melt My Eyez, See Your Future is Denzel Curry’s opus a decade in the making. Though he promises that his next album will be better, you can catch me spinning this one on repeat until then.