Albums with Addy: ZUU by Denzel Curry

Addison Scufsa, A&E Editor

Every year before the summer starts, mainstream radio and music commentators ask the question, “What is going to be the summer anthem everyone plays over and over again?”


While “Old Town Road”, “Truth Hurts”, “Bad Guy”, and “Senorita” all were massively overplayed and heard every time you stepped in or out of a car, club, or restaurant, Denzel Curry quietly put out the album of the summer for me right at the start in May. 


ZUU is the fourth and latest studio album by Miami rapper Denzel Curry following last year’s critically acclaimed Taboo. While not as in-depth, conscious, or long as Taboo, ZUU delivers an insanely fun summer track list of bangers that still circle around a general theme of Denzel’s original home, Carol City. Including limited features from local artists, Denzel manages to put what it’s like to party and live in Miami-Dade County on display for all to see. 


Firstly, Denzel has always benefited from rapping on some of the most perfectly suited beats thanks to excellent producers and a keen ear for the unusual, but addictive. ZUU is no different, featuring absolutely crazy production from Tay Keith, Ronny J, Charlie Heat, FnZ, and more. Denzel tended to have a nice balance of more melodic and profound songs to contrast the hardcore, almost punk style songs like “Black Metal Terrorist” on Taboo, but he throws that concept out pretty much entirely on ZUU, bringing in ten tracks of pure energy and rawness. 


The production varies from more trap oriented sound on tracks like “AUTOMATIC” and “SPEEDBOAT” to the disorienting and aggressive siren on “BIRDZ”. Nothing can compare to the energy on one of my favorite songs off the album, “P.A.T”. The harsh, clashing noises combined with the ridiculous amount of bass is enough to make anyone smash through walls and go insane in the mosh pit. “CAROLMART” provides the blend of the two extremes with a twist on an iconic Southern sound that puts you immediately in the driver’s seat of a low rider anywhere in Dade County.


Of course, ZUU wouldn’t be much of a Miami hometown tribute by Denzel without ample talk of growing up, surviving, and thriving in Carol City. Denzel certainly covers the gambit of Miami living, with songs about beautiful women and clubs like “WISH” or “SHAKE88”, songs about the struggle and the dead homies like “SPEEDBOAT” or “BIRDZ”, and a whole lot of Miami flexing on songs like “CAROLMART” or “AUTOMATIC”. 


While certainly not as lyrical as some might expect to come from the same artist who wrote Taboo, Zuu does have plenty to talk about behind the initial summer fun sheen. Curry references those who have died too young to ignorant violence in Miami, specifically the death of his close friend XXXtentacion who died in 2018. Curry also hides many lines revealing the true struggle of growing up as a kid in Carol City, even though he makes it clear he loves his hometown. Overall, don’t come into this album with lyrical expectations of Taboo, but pay attention and you might find more than you originally thought. 


One of the continual standouts of Denzel albums is the amazing list of feature verses that elevate Curry’s albums to new levels. ZUU nails the feeling of being in Miami thanks in part to the local selection of featured artists that show what Miami is all about. From the excellent Rick Ross feature on “BIRDZ” to the over-the-top energy of PlayThatBoiZay’s verse on “P.A.T”, the features always add, not subtract from Denzel’s brilliance, something that’s rare these days in the age of collaborative streaming hip hop. 

ZUU is definitely an album dedicated to getting new fans and staying in the Summer spotlight in preparation for a bigger, more cohesive album next year. What makes it different from other albums of a similar style released by other hip hop artists is that Denzel still makes an effort to make it quality and original. Summer to me always means getting in the car with friends, blasting good music, and hanging out enjoying the freedom of the season. ZUU is good summer music, and Denzel is proving his versatility once again.