Hip-hop and horror movies go hand in hand. Beyond overt references (think Nicki Minaj’s allusion to “Child’s Play” and “Chucky’s Bride” on “Monster“Or the name Geto Boys by Freddy Krueger on”Assassins“), both genres often play with tales of suffering and survival. On his 2018 album TA13OO, Denzel Curry creates his own horror story: navigating the music industry as a young black artist filled with promise and naivety.
TA13OO, as the name suggests, seeks to unbox the many taboo topics in Curry’s life – focusing on personal struggles with mental health and exploitative experiences on the part of business executives and the public. While these themes are at the forefront of Curry’s lyricism, the full picture of this industry manipulation is incomplete without considering the music videos that accompany the album.
In the first installment of the series, “BLACK BALLOONS“, a businessman holds up a pen and a long piece of paper in an attempt to coax Curry into signing a label deal. Over a stream of sinister organ synths, the man asserts:” I can do anything for you Denzel, and all you have to do for me is sign. A reluctant Curry presents his signature and is almost immediately swept away into a world of luxury, partying and excess. As the song progresses, Curry goes from attending those opulent parties to being a source of entertainment. Here emerges the clown character that Curry takes on throughout the rest of the project, adorned with the same face paint in black. and white than the one seen on the album cover.At the end of the video, Curry is sitting in a jail cell and away from the golden splendor he was promised in his early days.
In the following video, this time for the song “CLOUT COBAIN», Curry becomes a full-fledged circus act. The record director, and now the track master, frees Curry from his handcuffs and has the rapper perform in front of an aggressive crowd of white dudes with face tattoos and skinny styrofoam cups. As he endures these taunts, Curry sings over the chorus, “I just wanna feel me, you want me to kill myself.” The video comes to a head when an anguished Curry puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, much to the dismay of the demanding audience. “CLOUT COBAIN” is a clear example of how artists are forced to sacrifice their own sanity in order to maintain a profitable and acceptable image to fans. Rapper SoundCloud’s character is satirized in the video’s predominantly white audience, pointing out that from a production and consumer perspective, the genre is often reduced to appropriations of the black aesthetic. Curry ultimately falls victim to these pressures, but all hope is not yet lost.
In the final album video for the track “REVENGE“, Curry returns from the dead and seeks revenge on his tormentors. With the help of the JPEGMAFIA and ZillaKami features, Curry’s ghost rises from his bloodied body and sets off in search of the director of the record that triggered it. his fall. The surviving businessman lies on an operating table as Curry and his friends dissect his insides with hooks and cleavers in a final act of redemption. The rapper ditched his harlequin makeup, face fresh and finally freed from its oppressor. In the final shot, Curry sets off in a taxi to the sound of the soft guitar and the sounds of the trumpet. Sonically, there is a change from the grim acidity of the rest of the track in the last few seconds, perhaps a signal that Curry has achieved some semblance of peace despite everything he has lost in the process.
TA13OO is a candid chronicle of talented black artists stepped out of obscurity and propelled into the music industry with very little creative freedom. What remains most frightening about Curry’s journey is not the gothic clown imagery or graphic violence, but his trapping in the racist cycle of young artists forced to trade their well-being for wealth. and assumed weight. Yet despite these difficulties, the existence of TA13OO Only proof is that Curry actively rebelled against the industry’s hidden horrors in a victorious display of self-reliance.
The artistic editor of the daily Nora Lewis can be contacted at [email protected]