The last time that we spoke with Denzel Curry, his album Nostalgic 64 had just been released and he was enjoying praise for its intense, dark, and terrifyingly real stories of life in Carol City. Undoubtedly, it was one of the best rap projects to come out of Miami in 2013.
Crowned by Crossfade as the Prince of Miami Rap, Curry's also been heralded by some of music's major national outlets, including MTV and Complex, with a recent boost from his highly-anticipated "Parents" video.
In October, he performed at A3C. In March, he played SXSW. And since the beginning of April, he has been on a nationwide tour with the Underachievers. All good for the "Threatz" rapper, right?
Yes. But on February 27, a man named Treon Johnson died after being Tasered, pepper sprayed, and taken into custody by Hialeah police. The 27-year-old Johnson was to appear in Billy Corben's upcoming Dawg Fight, a documentary following backyard bare-knuckle brawling in Perrine. Johnson was Curry's older brother.
Crossfade: What's the one thing you can point to while on the road and say, "Wow, that was crazy as fuck"?
Denzel Curry: Hmm ... I don't really know. I've seen a lot of things on the road, like mountains. I've seen rivers. I've seen everything, from the U.S. all the way to Canada. Everything is just amazing to me, because I really don't travel out of my neighborhood unless it's for a show.
What about the people?
The people could either be weird or be chill. You don't have a middle with that.
XXL just released their Freshmen cover. Are you in any way disappointed about not being nominated?
No. I don't care. I don't care about the XXL Freshmen. I mean, the guys who made the list, congratulate them because they obviously worked hard to get there. I worked hard, but I know I'm going to be successful regardless, with or without the XXL Freshmen cover.
Your song "Ice Age" describes how cold the world can be. What's the coldest and most heartless thing you've personally seen?
Hmm ... What was the coldest thing I've personally seen? I can't really get into that, man. Can't really get into that.
How have you been since your brother's death?
It still plays in my mind, but I know I got to go harder for him, because I know he's watching me now. He's like a guardian. Same with my grandparents and everything. I took it pretty hard when it first happened, and then when I killed SXSW, I had to go back and bury my brother.
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I know your brother was a part of Billy Corben's Dawg Fight.
My brother was a backyard fighter. He did Dada 5000. I don't know what you know, but Dada is Kimbo Slice's friend, really good friend. When Kimbo got big, Dada started doing the backyard fighting. Treon was one of the main fighters in that. And I'd always go to his backyard fights, back when he was amateur, and then he worked his way up. I was really supportive about my brother during that time.
Did Corben reach out to you and your family?
Yes, he did. Shout out to Billy Corben.
What did he have to say to you?
Oh, man, he told his condolences and everything. He let us know about the film. He hit us up because he knew me and Treon were related.
What's your favorite memory of Treon?
Favorite memory of being with my brother is when this man went to Taco Bell with a shopping cart. He went to the order booth, and you thinking he's going to order something just to eat. He's just wondering there for three minutes, and he was like, "Let me just get a cup of water." And that was it.
I have a lot of good memories of my brother. Going to the stadium, him in the black Charger. He'll pick up me and my brother. I remember when he knocked a dude out across a tree one time. It was really funny.
What's the best lesson he taught you?
My brother was really big on education because he didn't graduate high school. He would make sure me and my brother would be on our game, and he would make sure that we would stay out of trouble. He would never want us to get in trouble.
I remember one time he tricked me and my brother into going to church.
How did he trick you?
Me and my brother Mook had an argument with my dad, and it was throughout the house and everything. And then my dad left, my brother was like, "Come on, take it out the house. Get dressed man! Get dressed! You see the ol' boy arguing? Get dressed right now!" So I put on shorts, some slides, and a white shirt. My brother put on whatever. As soon as he leaves, we was driving, I was like, "Where we going? Where we going? Where we going?" He would never tell us. He wouldn't tell us where we were going. Next thing you know we ended up at a church.
Last time we sat down for an interview, we talked about your parents digesting you wanting to pursue rap as a career. And this was before Nostalgic 64 was released. How have they been since then?
My parents are proud that I'm getting my life together and I was able to graduate high school, and be able to manage a pro career. They're really proud now that I'm on tour, and I get certain tour dates and I'm getting paid. They can't really complain. They just know that I'm good, situated. They just want me to continue what I'm doing. But they still stress school. My dad is like, "It's cool to be a rapper and everything, but make sure you get your education once you're established."
How will performing in Miami this time around differ from past performances here?
Well, before I left, I noticed a change, because when I performed at Peachfuzz, I did "Zone 3," and I'm like OK, I'm going to do three songs, "Zone 3," "Ice Age" and "Threatz." With "Zone 3," I was not expecting that people were going to turn up to it. Then boom, it ended up being a big thing in that club. And then I did "Ice Age" as a new song, and then everyone turned up to "Threatz" as usual. It was just really crazy. They're responding to my music now.
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Denzel Curry. As part of The Underachievers' Eyes of the World Tour. With Dillon Cooper. Presented by Dope Entertainment. Wednesday, May 7. Avenue D, 8 S. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $15 plus fees via ticketweb.com. All ages. Visit dopeent.com.
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter: @LeeMCastro