Denzel Curry Says He’ll Conquer Everything, Says We Should All Be Ready
Denzel Curry is a self-proclaimed weirdo. I asked him over the phone—”What do you mean, you’re weird?” and he told me, “I don’t know! I just am!” then passed his cell to friends surrounding him, asking, “Am I weird? Tell her if I’m weird or not!”
All four confirmed, yes, it’s true. Denzel Curry is weird, but weird works for Denzel Curry. Last year’s Nostalgic 64 solidified the 20-year-old’s reputation as a young phenom, and now he’s working on a double EP to be released later this year, titled 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms. Before heading off to SXSW, Denzel and I meditated on his process of writing music, meeting his idol, and why he’ll conquer everything he sets his mind to.
Abeline Cohen: I’ve heard that you draw.
Denzel Curry: Yeah, I draw. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. My dad taught me how to draw, and I stuck with it until I got older. Then I got into rapping, but I still make time for drawing because I have to make my album covers look dope as fuck.
What’s the new album cover going to look like?
DC: Why don’t you just wait to find out?
Uh, because I need to know right this second.
DC: Just know that it’s going to be an extension of the last one, but totally different.
An extension, but different? Okay, who are some other artists that draw, who you like?
DC: Yeah. So Posh God and Lofty 305, I fuck with them. Lofty 305 does big ass murals and shit, like they did some dope shit on a hotel in South Beach for Art Basel. They’re crazy. Posh God did a piece for Michelle Obama. Fun fact.
So are you planning on collaborating with them?
DC: Hell yeah, I mean, they’re my squad. They’re my team. They’re like generals, you understand? They keep me sane.
That’s nice. So are they going to SXSW with you?
DC: Nah, they’re like fuck all that. I’m going though. I love SXSW.
Who are you excited to see there?
DC: Hmm…Remy Banks, Amber London, Retro Sushi, and Earl Sweatshirt.
What state of mind do you have to be in to write music?
DC: When I’m writing on my own shit, I just be smoking weed, getting fired up, writing, getting hungry, chilling, thinking about some shit—then I get a good idea and get hungry again, and then I just make some shit.
It’s not hard for you to write music when you’re high?
DC: At first it was, but I feel more inspired than I did last year. I feel more balanced, like, less scattered, you know what I’m saying?
Really? I’d assume you feel more pressure after coming out with a successful album last year.
DC: Well no, because I feel that I’m going to murk everything I do. Sometimes I’m get a little bit doubtful, and other times I’m a little bit overconfident, but I know I’m going to conquer everything I do.
But how do you actually know that?
DC: Because of God [Laughs]. No, I’m just messing with you. I just believe that I can overcome any obstacles that come my way.
Okay, that sounds good. Do you have a strong support system to help you believe that you can do everything you want?
DC: Yeah. I mean, once you’re lonely or isolated, you’re like, powerless. But then again, you could come out from isolation being the strongest motherfucker out there.
And isn’t it so important to have people you trust when you’re trying to do such big things? Is that a big deal for you?
DC: That’s definitely a big deal for me. I watched lots of people turn on me last year, and I was like fuck y’all. So it’s like, I’ll trust you until you fuck up, but once you fuck up, I’m done.
“I’m just a regular person, giving an average point of view. I want people to have fun, but I want them to be smart at the same time.”
Are you a good friend?
DC: Hell yeah, I’m a hella good friend. I let people stay in my crib, you know what I’m saying? Not all the time, because it gets annoying after a certain point. But I let people stay here, I let people chill here and shit, you know what I’m saying? As long as they respect my house and my rules and like—
Are you still living in Florida?
DC: Yes. But I can’t give you my address.
That’s fine. Do you want to have houses in other places?
DC: I will own property in different places, so I could have private property, like ‘All trespassers will be shot’, you know what I’m saying? With bullets. I mean, not real bullets, but with one of those fake bullets, like, get the fuck of my property.
Do you like New York City?
DC: Hell yeah, I like New York City. That shit is a like a big ass jungle, I just be getting up and going through that shit every day, you know, get a bagel in the morning, going to Union square and shit.
[Laughing] Okay, I also wanted to ask you a little bit about what you think about some of the recent events—because I’ve read your statements on Trayvon Martin. Where were you this summer, when all the shit went down with Michael Brown and Eric Garner?
DC: Man, you know, we were all pretty much just staying clear—you know what we were watching? Alex Jones. If you don’t know what that is, you need to find out. They did this shit to Trayvon Martin. They did this shit to Michael Brown, and then they did this shit to Eric Garner. It’s just so fucked up, you know? Really though, it’s just trying to turn people against each other so the government can have control over everybody.
Do you feel like it’s your responsibility as an artist to talk about this stuff? Like, where have Kanye and Jay Z been about this?
DC: Hell no. It’s not my responsibility to talk about this shit. I talk about this shit, or at least give my perspective on it because I’m a very opinionated person. I don’t feel like I have to, I just choose to. Everybody has their own opinion on these things, I just choose to share mine. Like, what, people should be like, ‘Oh, Kanye, how you feel about this?’ This nigga has his own problems, why the f*** would he talk about this? If he’s not talking about it, it’s probably because he has problems of his own. You can’t fix other problems before you solve your own.
Did you go to any protests?
DC: Did I go to any protests? No, man, because they always turn into riots. Protests aren’t going to bring Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown back. I mean, they might bring justice, but I think the way to really do that is to be more organized. Once we’re more organized, then the system can change. I don’t know. I’m just a regular person, giving an average point of view. I want people to have fun, but I want them to be smart at the same time.
Is that something that you have to strive for when you’re writing music?
DC: No, it just comes out. I’m not a conscious rapper, I just tell it how it is. I just make something and then see how it comes out. I just start writing, and then see how it goes. Some things need to be revised, but…yeah.
And your favorite rappers are Outkast. Have you ever seen them perform?
DC: No. I met Andre 3000 though.
How was that?
DC: [Pauses] Awesome.
[Laughing] Were you star struck?
DC: I was like ‘Oh shit, it’s Andre 3000, this is so weird, I have to go talk to him so I can just get on with my life’. So I told him about the album. I told him about working on Planet Shrooms, told him about the European tour, MTV, all this shit. Then I asked him what kept him relevant, and then he just said, ‘Bro, I just got bored.”
DC: Then everything just hit me. I was like, what? And he was like, ‘Yeah bro, I just got bored. Don’t worry about the fans, don’t worry about anything, just stay true to yourself, and stay true to what matters to you’. That’s when everything changed. I changed my hair, I changed my sound, everything. After Planet Shrooms, everything I do in 2015 is going to be crazy, you know what I’m saying?
Right, because you don’t want to get bored.
DC: I don’t want to get bored! And that’s the only way I can have fun with it—instead of just making it some job, I need to have fun with it. I’m only 20 years old, you know what I’m saying? I’m still going to keep to my roots though.
That’s good perspective to have. It’s good to not take yourself so seriously.
DC: Yeah, I mean, you gotta take it seriously sometimes, but especially with a job like this, you have to be able to have perspective.
All Photos Courtesy of Jessica Lehrman