The presentation surrounding Melt My Eyez See Your Future flips through images like a Rolodex. Following Denzel Curry throughout his search for a sanctuary. Often the strongest characters have a comprehensive skill set, never limiting themselves to being a master of one combat style. His eccentric personality, raspy delivery, and energy have been his weapon of choice for years. Yet this time, he leaves those skills behind to bring something else to aid him in his battle, directness.
At its core, Melt My Eyez See Your Future is Denzel wandering in a desert. It’s faint and spacious, mirroring the album’s precise drums, airy chords, and vocals that sound like hallucinations. Denzel’s delivery morphs into whatever weapon is needed. On ‘Walkin’, he toys with his inflections, weaving transitional phrases between rhyme schemes at a measured pace. Once the beat switch comes, his energy hits back to back like a John Silver hot tag. Teetering his voice between logic and emotions, all he wants to do is be better, feel better, and he can only do that with constant movement.
But deserts are more than their harsh conditions. You could go anywhere, everywhere, and nowhere all at once, testing the traveler’s discipline and endurance. In interviews, Denzel understood that there would be nowhere to hide with a record as personal as this one. “Ultimately, this album is about me, Denzel Curry.” Denzel Curry, the person is fascinating, but will the fans love him? The cool factor is the confidence that spills out from press photos and videos; it’s all Denzel. The Dollars Trilogy and Star War references, the homage to Akira Kurosawa’s directing style is all genuine interest of the man before us. He’s more like us than he even thought, so why hide it?
Throughout the album, his tone is subdued-as if he’s meditating-speaking to himself, yet his presence is forceful. Every action is down in a trot, unpacking his emotions as he strolls forward at his past. On ‘Aint No Way’ featuring the talented Rico Nasty, 6LACK, and J.I.D, the production starts with swirling vocals and synths, while the drums power up every 4 bars as Rico spazzes. A subtle beat switch cools it down to a more chord-driven and boom-bap lead production, abling Denzel to brisk while his peers ran. Even when everyone around him picks up in pace, he refuses to rush. His slowed rapping style he displayed left room for his lyrics to fill up the space instead of the energy his past personas would rely on. “Run the jewels ’cause I kill a mic on any LP,” is fucking crazy, and Curry delivered like he knew it was.
Like the video for his standout track ‘Walkin’ or the dizzying camera movements in ‘Zatoichi,’ mobility and admission are constant themes of the album. “I’m the nigga walkin’ through the mist/Still reportin’ live from the depths of the abyss,” Denzel raps on ‘Sanjuro.’ He pushes forward while advising those around him of the horrors he’s seen along the way. “An epic battle where evil and the will to evolve is what I’m involved in/Hey God, is Earth gon’ keep revolvin’?” He vents in ‘Worst Comes To Worst’ on the current state of affairs worldwide. The slick inner rhyme scheme and inflection of the vowels make it flow seamlessly. Fluid in delivery and mind, he refuses to be stagnant.
However, the mass of drums and the texture wear on you throughout the journey as the album progresses. Neo-soul and jazz-inspired production laced with background vocals make for a pleasing listen. The intro track ‘Melt Sessions #1″ is delicate, with pitched-up vocals cooing behind creamy chords and drums that pelt the soundscape like a leaf scathing the concrete. The album’s standout track ‘X-Wing’ is lush. Ghost notes from the high hats are tucked behind a riveting violin sample and spine chilling bells. It’s a departure from where the album started and highlights one of its metaphors: acceptance. The travel is taking its toll, weighing on him more the longer he goes, yet he’s more confident than ever. The baggage he carries with him is stout, eternal, and wintry, but the journey would have been incomplete with it.
Yet there are instances where Denzel stumbles to provide a precise picture of his pain. Despite his intentions, we don’t get enough of what ails him at specific points. ‘John Wayne’ is a royal rumble for your attention mixing-wise. The sound effects take your attention away from the exciting music behind it. The ditzy T-Pain collab ‘Trouble’ is fun despite its vagueness. As soon as Denzel builds upon his flow and energy, it’s the chorus. All you come out with is how Denzel is back home with his mom, mismanaging his finances (he’s just like me for real), and driving around in his mother’s car.
Storytelling is limited throughout the album, settling for more of a conversational tone around his day-to-day observations. While far from an album killer, expanding on ideas and attacking them from different angles would have helped. Like in ‘Worst Of The Worst’ the first verse lays out questions, and the second provides answers he ends up regretting asking for. More creativity in packaging his feelings like this would help.
But the album is at its best when he takes time to set his emotions, vices, success, and failures before him as he continues to move forward. From the production to the lyrics to its themes, its openness is breadth and refreshing. He is comfortable enough to cry and blur his vision, turning his tears into mirrors as self-reflects upon the distance traveled. It’s an emotional transaction- a physiological response to a psychological ideology- the past doesn’t have to disrupt the now or the future. It’s not perfect, but it’s honest.