At just 27 years of age, Denzel Curry has been through an incredible amount of trauma in his young life. In an interview with New York rap radio show The Breakfast Club, he confided that he was molested as a young boy. “I don’t even like talking about it honestly, because it’s just not me,” he said. “I don’t want that to define me as my person.” Later on, in 2014, his older brother Treon tragically died as a result of complications after being tasered and pepper-sprayed by the police. At the precise moment his career was taking off and he was playing the likes of SXSW, Denzel was contending with the unbearable prospect of burying his brother. In 2018, his one-time roommate, the controversial rapper Xxxtentacion, was murdered. Any one of these would be more than most people could fathom.
Unpacking details of his whole life in front of a stranger was, he explains, not an easy process to undertake.
“It’s very hard to open up in therapy,” he says. “I’ve recently just gotten to a place where I’m not trying to stray away from the conversation. I’m trying to go at it head on, and just talk about problems and the best way to deal with them. I would talk about my issues, and they’d be like, ‘This is a pattern, obviously.’ There have been patterns throughout my whole life. It was like a cycle over and over and over again and I needed to prioritise breaking them.”
It turns out he’s been working on himself on many levels in order to cope with where the maelstrom of fame – and its inherent pressures – have taken him.
“That’s one thing I really didn’t come to terms with,” Denzel says. “There was a lot of stuff in my life with my relationships with people, with artists, and clinging onto groups of people I felt like I needed to be around [who were like] a centre or a base. The people who I thought were my friends really weren’t, and people that I would never turn my back on, turned their back on me. Just looking at those things inspired me to end up writing this album.”
Every Wednesday he would head to therapy and sift through his past; the following Friday he would head into the studio to work on his fifth outing armed with fresh insight. This is how Denzel Curry’s best album yet was carefully forged.
“Whatever I was feeling, whatever I felt that week was going to go into it, even when bad things happened as a result of my own actions,” he says, “I would utilise whatever was going on, learn from it, and then go to the studio and lay it down.”