Because I’ve already mentioned how much I love Denzel about a dozen times, I’ll skip that part for now lol. But there’s actually a really interesting story about me and Nostalgic 64 (2013) and how I sabotaged myself in 2013 by not listening to it when it came out. It’s a story that involves mystery, chaos, and me finally figuring out that I hadn’t lost my mind!
For the past couple of years, I had been randomly remembering that I listened to part of a Denzel Curry album a long time ago. Or at least, I thought it was Denzel; I wasn’t sure. The problem is that when I went on Spotify, I didn’t see the album cover of the album I had listened to. And I hadn’t listened to enough of the project for me to remember the name or any of the songs; I wasn’t a huge fan of the one or two that I heard, so I didn’t invest much time in it. The only thing that I was sure of was that the person was kind of in the same musical boat as Odd Future and the folks from Beast Coast (that’s who I was listening to heavy around that time), their name started with a “D,” and that the album cover was mostly purple , hand-drawn, and had a person standing in front of a naked woman. That’s it.
So when I was looking for the project that I swore existed and swore was by Denzel Curry, I had basically zero clues. I tried looking again on Denzel’s Spotify just in case I missed it, I tried other artists like Dizzy Wright whose music I don’t listen to but has a name starting with “D” and came out around that time, and I tried Googling “rap albums with purple album covers;” a lot of them came up; none of them were what I wanted. You might be saying to yourself “why didn’t she try Denzel’s Soundcloud page; there might be old stuff on there?” I DON’T KNOW LOL. I have a habit, when I’m looking for things, to kind of not think logically sometimes. My mind is so busy thinking of every possibility that I forget to look in the more logical places. Until I remember to.
Last week, while going on another “I KNOW this album exists, and I’m going to find it” hunt, I found myself logging into my old DatPiff account. After typing in “Denzel Curry” guess what came up? Nostalgic 64. Even though it was a slowed version, I immediately recognized the album cover. I almost SCREAMED, y’all. I could not believe that it took me THAT long to go on DatPiff. Of course, I was going to find it on DatPiff! Anyway, I finally listened to the entire project, and that’s what we’re all here to talk about.
Honestly, I’m actually glad that I didn’t listen to Nostalgic 64 until after I had already heard Denzel’s more recent projects (you can find stories on those here, here, and here). It was a good opportunity to hear where Denzel came from and compare it to where I hear Denzel at now. And to me, Denzel was not very far off on Nostalgic 64 from where he is now. And I want to be clear that I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. I think in a different situation with a different artist, the quality of an older project being so close to the quality of a newer project would be a little questionable. Like, where’s the growth? Where’s the development? But Denzel shows himself to already be an amazing storyteller and lyricist on Nostalgic. Songs like “Parents” and “Zone 3” are full of vivid imagery and remarkable storytelling. I got soo excited when I heard the “your momma ain’t shit, your daddy ain’t shit” that he interpolated for “Ricky” from ZUU (2019)! This for me, although I did enjoy the songs that came before it, was the first song that felt like a Denzel song; the flow, the hook….it’s all very much how I think of Denzel right now. I do wanna say that even though the storytelling ability of Denzel is great, but this particular story felt a bit….questionable. The stories fall into the stereotypical in ways that feel a bit weird to hear from Denzel, but I do understand that these are stories that are reflective of where he’s from and what he’s seen, so there is a certain reality that he’s sharing.
“Dark and Violent” was another very Denzel track. The production, as with the other songs, is really good. For whatever reason, his flow on the first verse reminds me of his verse for the 2016 XXL Freshman Cypher, which I LOVED. I think it’s because the cadence is so similar. Also I just need to say that the 2016 XXL Freshman cypher with Kodak (who I don’t like), Uzi (who I stan), Yachty (who I like), 21 (who I like), and Denzel (who I STAN) is my favorite XXL Freshman cypher group. They’re just having so much fun and not taking themselves too seriously. Like….WHAT A GROUP, Y’AL!!!!
“Threatz” I think is my favorite song on the project! I LOVE THIS SONG. It feels like PEAK Denzel Curry. I loved his and Yung Simmie’s verses. I also loved Robb Bank$ on the chorus. I honestly could have done without his verse, though. I went through a brief period in high school where I was infatuated with Robb Bank$ and his music (I would like to thank Tumblr for that). So I have listened to some of his songs, and his slower-paced flow is nothing new to me. It just felt out of place on this song. It kind of slows the tempo of the song down a lot and kind of throws off the groove. It wasn’t a bad verse by any means, but I definitely would’ve liked the song better without it.
“Widescreen” is another song that I think really holds up. I know I keep saying it, but he really was just 18 making these songs. Taboo (2018) wouldn’t come out for another 6 years, and the songs on N64 are holding up! Speaking of “N64” – WHAT A TITLE TRACK! There’s a different feeling that this song has. It feels so much fuller and more well-rounded; it’s like the song itself KNOWS it’s the main attraction and put on its best outfit to show off. I love the change in tone on the production after the reference to Trayvon Martin’s death. I didn’t realize that Trayvon lived so close to Denzel; it makes the reference to “SIRENS” from Taboo make more sense. Not that it needed the background to make sense – I’m here for any and all memorializing of black folks who were shot by the police – but it just adds another layer.
“Like Me,” “Benz” and “Mystical Virus Pt. 3: The Scream” were the songs I liked the least from the project. I loved Denzel’s flow on “Mystical Virus,” and I liked the slight Odd Futureness of the production, but this song really didn’t do it for me. Also Mike G LOL. He uhh….yeah. There was a second or two during his verse where it sounded like he was off-beat and that just turned me off to the rest of the song. “Benz” was fine; I guess every project needs a braggadocious song, and this was that. I like the piano loop on “Like Me,” and I appreciate a love track, but I don’t know….Denzel has better songs LOL. It just feels a little clumsy and out of place. I did like “Talk That Shit” and “Denny Cascade” more, though. I was waiting on a song like “Talk That Shit” – something hard hitting with the signature Denzel fast-placed flow. I would have lived for some Desiigner adlibs! “Denny Cascade” had some great moments of production. It felt like fancy dinner party music. The hook reminds me of “Shake 88” from ZUU (2018) – again, it’s a cadence thing. I expected some fast Denzel, but it was a good track regardless. The project ends with “A Day in the Life of Denzel Curry Pt. 2.” The flow is nice. It’s a very Cudi-esque song. Listening to it took me right back to Man on the Moon: The End of Day (2009). And the sample from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy in the back was perfect lol.
So, my final thoughts. I think Nostalgic 64 is a decent project. I loved the opportunity to hear where he was 7 years ago; there’s an obvious growth that he’s gone through since then. But he’s still very grounded in the way that he’s been creating for over 7 years. Like Denzel DOES THIS. And it’s that passion that allows him to make such fantastic music. I loved being able to engage with Denzel’s many talents and interests on this project. He drew the cover, he raps, he included his love for cartoons. He is very much a creative, and he HAS to be referred to as such. Of course, Denzel raps. But he has made it clear that he just has a creative energy that exists in so many different forms. I loved being able to engage with that on this project.
So I guess all that obsessive searching for this project was worth it lol! Denzel, man. What a GUY!
Featured Image Credit: https://genius.com/album_cover_arts/12692
(listen to Nostalgic 64 by clicking the image below)
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Denzel Curry might be the most talked about artist on thursday email. There’s been a Bite-Sized Album Review, a First Listen, several singular references to him and his music. And I honestly can’t help it. Can you blame me? The man bars out on every project; each album is its own thing (not needing to … Continue reading Album Look Back #6: Denzel Curry’s ‘ZUU’