Bite-sized Album Review #11: Denzel Curry’s ’32 Zel’

I’m back with another Denzel project LOL. I think I just have maybe 2 more to do? I’m just tryna work my way through Zel’s discography, so y’all have to work through it with me. But I’ll be done soon :). I’m sad to say, though, that I’m not a huge fan of this project. I didn’t hate it; Denzel makes great music and this is a really good project, but I didn’t love it. There was something missing for me on this project that I can’t put my finger on, but I think I can attribute some of it to this being one of Denzel’s early projects, so he was still finding his musical stride. This project felt more developed than Nostalgic 64 (2013) – you can find my review for that right here – but obviously since I’ve listened to all of Denzel’s projects from the last 2 years or so, I can hear the difference in where he was on this project and where he is now. Which is how it should be! I’m glad to hear big chunks of familiarity, and I’m also glad to hear how Denzel experimented and has matured in the way he approaches music and rapping.

Thematic Cohesion

I think at this point, having heard so many projects from Zel, thematic cohesion isn’t something I have to worry about with him. I think especially on the pre-TABOO (2018) projects (plus ZUU (2019)) Carol City and Miami where the stage on which his stories were being performed, while also being a character in the songs themselves.He talks about the people that he grew up with, the places that he grew up in, and all of that comes together to form a very cohesive narrative about him growing up in Carol City. I don’t think that is cohesive in the way that every song works as an act in a progressive story a la good kid, m.A.A.d. City (2013) from Kendrick, but it does come together in the way that each song is a little slice of a moment in Carol City. Which, again, isn’t super uncommon for a Denzel project.

Sonic Cohesion

32 Zel is very much ground in a southern trap sound that I feel like Denzel doesn’t lean into so heavily on more recent projects but leaned into a lot in previous projects. He adds in a little bit of the Denzel flair, where we get some hints of different sounds, but it is very much southern trap-inspired, which isn’t bad, but it is something that is a little bit weird for me to hear from him having been introduced to him with TABOO, where those sounds take more of a backseat role. I do feel like I enjoy the projects more when he experiments more. ZUU is actually a great example of him blending sounds, while staying true to a specific sonic mission of bring Miami and Carol City into the musical space more vividly. But obviously, doing something like that is easier for a more seasoned artist!

Vibe Check

With all of that, though, I love some good southern trap-esque music, so despite me not being the biggest fan of this project, I did, at least, vibe with it.

Replay Value

LOL honestly, I wouldn’t listen to any of these songs again. I expected to be way more wowed than I was. 😦

3 songs i dig…

“Umm” “None” and “Of Them” LOL but if I had to choose: “Ultimate Remix,” mayybeee “Envy Me” and “32 Ave Intro”

fave bar from the project:


Featured Image Credit:

Overall Album Rating

(listen to 32 Zel on spotify, by clicking on the image below)

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