As the first month of 2020 comes to a close, many fans are raving over albums like Circles, Mac Miller’s posthumous hit, the new Mick Jenkins record The Circus, and hell, even the surprise Eminem release Music to Be Murdered By. These albums have gained lots of commercial success and praise, but they are not the best projects to be released so far this year. The project I am talking about is not even really an album. Music critics haven’t been talking about it. Rap fans haven’t been talking about it. It honestly feels like I’m the only one who’s talking about it. Yeah, I said it. The best project to be released this year is the 13OOD 1N + 13OOD OUT (Blood In, Blood Out) mix by Denzel Curry.
For those who do not know, a mix is a cohesive string of tracks that usually lasts about ten to fifteen minutes. In addition, every instrumental correlates into the next. During transitions, sometimes drums will slowly melt into a track or a bass boost will slash into an instrumental to symbolize a song change. It pretty much feels like a fifteen minute song. On January 6th, Denzel blessed the world with one of these mixes and it is one of the best I have ever heard.
As some may look at these as “throw away tracks” or “songs that were not good enough for the album”, I think it is surreal. Denzel displays a level of passion and aggression that is simply mind boggling. It literally felt like a twelve minute crazed journey that had so many twists and turns it left you dumbfounded at the end. After giving this mix about thirty listens, I can conclude there are four ingredients that gave this mix one of the most tasteful music experiences I have had in a long time. Without further ado, I present to you the reasons:
1.) The Surprise:
Denzel dropped this mix on January 6th, 2020. If ya go look at the calendar and are perplexed by the date of this release, don’t worry - you are seeing this correctly. Denzel dropped this shit on a goddamn Monday. Not a Friday with massive amounts of hype-up. The man literally just posted one link with no caption on Twitter and didn’t even post a thing about it on any other social media. He just dropped it and left. Because there was no hype about it or any momentum at all, there could be no possible letdown. The mix caught me off guard. The fact that it is only on YouTube kept my expectations to zero. So with no prior speculation, I was blown out of the water at first listen. The surprise aspect of the drop makes the listen so much more enjoyable and so much more fun.
2.) The Features:
Surprise or not, from a feature standpoint, I cannot think of a better selection than what Denzel did this year. Denzel handpicked the death metal/speed rapper Ghostmane, punk rapper ZillaKami, East Memphis protegé Xavier Wulf, and the New York maniac AK from The Underachievers. Each feature brings a different arsenal to the table. Ghostmane brings a sweet and short, up-and-down roller coaster of speed-rap which contains a deep, demonic flow that possesses you with every word. ZillaKami compliments Denzel perfectly with the back and forth rap on “Evil Twin”, which really makes you ponder who truly is the evil twin in this track because of the ferociousness of the two. Xavier Wulf really blends the hard, East Memphis style seamlessly into his feature and uses the excel from the momentum to kill the verse. Last but not least, AK executes his verse with not only emotion but with great wordplay. Bars like “She sucking my Dragon Balls until I'm Z’d, yuh” and “Hyperbolic got me super brolic, and one hit will probably bring fatigue” reinforces his expertise and arguably has the best lyrism out of the whole project.
3.) Perfect Blend of ZUU and TA13BOO:
As there is not a single overlap in features on 13OOD 1N + 13OOD OUT from ZUU and TA13OO, throughout this tape you can see aspects of both of Denzel’s two recent albums. There are the freestyle aspects and fast paced drums that are obviously components from ZUU. There are dark deep voices mixed with heavy bass boosts that are distinctly present in TA13BOO. These projects are very different from the fact that Denzel was able to combine them in such a fluid way that it makes it a little sub-project. The smooth and clean transition that Denzel executed makes the music so much more meaningful and exemplifies Denzel’s intelligence and musical skill.
4.) Funny and Youthful Wordplay/One Liners:
Throughout this tape, there are sixteen different references (fourteen from Denzel) that display youthful diction. My criteria for youthful is video game, kid show, or childish movie references. Although this might not seem that important in creating a good rap project, I can assure you this is. The reason it is important is that it establishes the tone of the mix. The youthful diction reveals that the mix is not meant to contain a deeper meaning or hidden message. It's just supposed to be something that's insanely fun to listen to. There are a plethora of great one-liners like “Pokémon, bitch, I'm known to evolve”, “Gotta be on point like a gnome hat”, or “Boy, you half a man, I should've called you Charlie Sheen, yuh” that just make you smile while listening to it. Denzel knows how to create fun projects.