"How personal do you wanna get?" Denzel Curry, the 21-year-old rapper from Carol City, Florida, isn't one to sidestep the hard questions. Having recently emerged as one of the underground's most vibrant young talents--and one of its best candidates for breakthrough success in the mainstream--it would be understandable if Curry had absorbed some media training classes, or if he had handlers peering over his shoulder, making sure he stays on message. Instead, when asked to talk about the events in his past that shaped his psychological development, the 2016 XXL Freshman circles back to a familiar topic: death.
In an era where the divide between old and new seems to be growing wider by the week, Curry refuses to be swayed by fickle trends. Some new artists reject the genre's pioneers, while others cling too tightly to the past; Denzel prefers to break down those barriers. His point of view is inextricable from his Southern roots, but he incorporates pieces of every region, every time period. He's an artist who rises above his surroundings.
As the sounds Denzel explored on the EPs moved even further into vogue--and as fans and critics started to come around to the new material--he pulled yet another bait-and-switch. Released this March, Imperial was both his finest work to date and his best received. The brief, breathless album showcases his near-peerless technical skill along with a newfound maturity in his songwriting. "I was going through a dark time," Curry says now of the time that birthed Imperial. So he challenged himself to find a radical level of transparency. "The whole theme of that tape is just being honest--exposing myself before anybody else does, talking about my past, talking about where I'm heading to."
The New York City punk band Show Me the Body made up of front man Julian Cashwan Pratt, 22, drummer Noah Cohen-Corbett, 20, and bassist Harlan Steed, 21 know something you don't - Do It Yourself. For the last 2 years, Show Me the Body have been working on the fringes of the NYC music scene cultivating inclusive experiences for the youth and beyond.
They released their full-length debut, Body War, in summer of 2016. Body War is an abrasive yet compelling project that could only come from a city as wildly tumultuous as NYC. Their harshly distorted banjo riffs, mighty baselines, powerful drums, plus manipulated samples of the band's own demos, combine for a full immersion experience.