Miami native Denzel Curry is only 21 years old but has already released numerous mixtapes, one album and his second studio album Imperial is on it’s way. The young rapper has garnered a cult-like following throughout his career, selling out shows all over the world. His fan base knows all the lyrics by heart and are just as turnt as Denzel himself. Last week he performed at Trix in Antwerp and we spoke to him about his latest single Knotty Head, growing up in Miami, his forthcoming album Imperial and much more.
How has the European tour been so far?
The European tour has been really good so far. A lot of the shows were sold out. The energy has been really turnt. It’s a blessing to be out here in Europe.
Tonight’s perfomance is not your only one in Belgium on this tour. On Friday you performed in Liège at the Fresh festival. How was it?
It was pretty cool. In the beginning it was a bit akward because most people there don’t really understand English. At the end everybody was getting turnt, they were even trying to get on stage to take pictures with.
The energy at your live shows is always on point and the crowd always gets turnt up to the fullest. What’s the key to getting the crowd and yourself that turnt?
Me being hyper all my life and finding a way to convert that energy into something I can work with. There’s a time to switch it on and switch it off. As a kid I didn’t know how to to turn it off but when I started high school I learned how to control it.
What happens when Denzel Curry gets ULT?
That means I become ultimate. I try to reach the final form but I’m not there yet. The ULT lifestyle is about going hard and being the best you can be. Going hard is what you need to do in order to succeed and to reach the final form.
You just put out a single dubbed “Knotty Head”. What’s the story behind that track?
It’s about being proud of where you’re from. Where I’m from we all have knotty dreads because we’re like the closest to carribean people. I got my inspiration from Trick Daddy‘s song Back In The Days where he was rapping about how people duked up their afros and got dreads. I’m basically telling the same story because I’m also from Miami. I just took it to the newer generation with this song. I had an afro before I had dreads and I was tired of having an afro so I duked it up because everybody in Miami and South-Florida who did have an afro duked up their dreads. People always compare it to The Weeknd’s hairstyle but that’s ignorant. This is something totally different.
I see a lot of similarities with Beyoncé’s new song Formation in terms of being proud of who you are and where you’re from. A lot of people said that the song is anti-police. How do you feel about that?
That song is not anti-police. You’re a subject when it comes down to the area where you stay in. I wouldn’t say I was a target but I was always profiled. That’s why it’s fuck the police. The police killed my brother so it’s always going to be fuck the police. There are good cops but it’s so hard to find them because there are so many fucked up ones. It’s like how do they see us. They always think minorities are the bad people. There are also good minorities who don’t do anything, but they’ll still profile them. There’s prejudice on both ends and I also talk about both sides. When I say ‘But Bishop killed Radames’ in ULT I use that as an example of minorities killing minorities because otherwise it’s hypocritical. Kendrick Lamar talks about the same thing in The Blacker The Berry. When you talk about Trayvon Martin getting killed by the cops, you also need to talk about minorities killing eachother because that’s the reality.
I’ve noticed that your hometown is very important to you. How did growing up in South Florida, Miami influence your music?
I embraced the culture because I stay in a melting pot and that’s what influenced me to talk about it because nobody from South Florida told the real South Florida story. I felt like if I was going to tell this story, then let me tell it like Biggie rapped about Brooklyn and Tupac rapped about Oakland. People like Rick Ross, Trick Daddy & Trina talk about Miami in their songs but I felt like they hadn’t really spoken on the other side and that’s why I want to speak on that other side in complete detail so people know what to expect when they come to South Florida.
You’ve also got a new album coming out this year titled Imperial. What can we expect from that?
Pure honesty. It’s me being honest with the world, being vulnerable, utilizing my emotions and I’m telling my story. I went trough a really deep and emotional part of my life and I felt like I didn’t say what I needed to say on the last album. I’m just going hard for the people who aren’t here.
A couple of weeks ago you tweeted that you’re going to win a Grammy one day…
Oh yeah for sure, because I’m tired of being underground. People don’t realize that and they are always like: Man, fuck a Grammy, you don’t need that shit! I’m tired of people saying that because if I wouldn’t want to get that Grammy, I’m going to be stuck in the same place. I’m trying to get bigger so I can do bigger shit for my city and my people and do what I have to do for my family. I’ll stay true to my sound but I will evolve and you can’t be mad at me for evolving. Saying that I have to stay underground is like basically telling me not to grow. You can’t tell a seed not to become a plant.
Is this album already Grammy material or are you still working on that?
This is the slap in the face. Most of the songwriting is gold, so it could be Grammy material but it’s not there yet. I’m going to get there with the next album, but Imperial is the album right now. This is the shit that’s going to get everyone woken up. It’s what people need to hear because all these stories are relatable.