Denzel Curry is up to… something. After over a year since his last solo material, housed on the excellent Imperial project, he began dropping off brief demos about a month ago, starting with the grimy, experimental “Hate Government,” and continuing with the bass-heavy “Equalizer.” Today, he’s dropped off his most complete-sounding track of the bunch, the Lil Ugly Mane-assisted “Zeltron 6 Billion.”
The dread-headed Dade County denizen and the reclusive Richmond radical make for a great pair, as we’ve already learned on past collaborations “Twistin” and “Mystical Virus 3: The Scream,” but this track might be their best joint effort yet. Produced by frequent Curry collaborator FNZ, “Zeltron 6 Billion” coasts by on a humid flute sample and a crunchy beat, all of this very reminiscent of 36 Chambers-era Wu-Tang Clan.
But no matter how stellar the beat, Curry’s usually the clear highlight of his own tracks. It’s no exception here, as he crams his bars with references both obvious-but-creative (“I crash into your soldiers like bricks thrown by Shaquille O’Neal”) and totally unexpected (“I never went to college, I don’t even listen to Asher Roth”). On his verse, the more methodically-paced Ugly Mane stays in his hard-but-depressive lane, acting threatening while also feeling like he’s “drowning in the ocean,” and he even finds time for a lyrical call-back to “Twistin.”
Curry’s always been a bit trippier and more inscrutable than his peers, but it feels like he’s leaning into it even further on these demos. “Zeltron,” for one, contains opaque lyrics such as, “Sometimes I’m a butterfly, mostly I feel like a moth” and, “I’m murdering everything inside my allegory.”
This whole demo release campaign leaves us with plenty of questions too. All of the songs’ single artwork contains the number 13 (today’s date), and along with silhouettes of Curry, one fittingly shared with the caption “Riddle me this…” also includes the words “The Final Message” and “Ult: 4 My Day Ones.”
Are these titles of an upcoming release, or as Curry may have suggested, simply riddles that will remain unanswered? Considering that his career’s given us plenty of the latter, Curry might just be speaking in codes that only he understands, but let’s hope that it eventually leads to a project containing all of these fantastic new demos.