People seldom write love letters these days, but when writing one becomes necessary, it’s painfully obvious. You write a love letter when you miss someone more than anyone inside and outside of this world, and you feel the need to prove that in a concrete and enduring way. Love letters are tangible representations of your emotions that can be saved and experienced over and over again.
Denzel Curry’s latest release, ZUU, is a love letter to Miami’s Carol City neighborhood. More specifically, ZUU is a love letter to Curry’s home, his mother, his father, his family, his friends and all his influences. It’s his way of showing that even though he lives in Los Angeles now, Carol City still holds a special place in his heart.
Throughout ZUU, Curry is having a blast. He skips the dense lyrics and complex themes, assuring the homage to his neighborhood is never obscured, and replaces them with pop culture references and allusions to his family and friends. After all, he revealed in an interview with The Fader that ZUU was recorded as a coping mechanism for his homesickness.
Curry covers a range of rap styles, from pop rap on “WISH” to horrorcore à la Three 6 Mafia on “CAROLMART,” and he does it in seamless fashion. Never does he sound out of place or like he’s trying too hard to emulate a certain style. Curry freestyled the entire album, rapping from the heart instead of his notebook, and it shows. His voice, flow, delivery and bars remain distinctly Miami, reminiscent at times of his former housemate XXXTentacion’s delivery and production and fellow Miamian Ski Mask the Slump God’s lyrics, often referencing different cartoons and anime.
What’s more, instead of shelling out big bucks to obtain high-profile guest features and producers, Curry invited his friends and other Miami natives to join him in crafting his love letter to the city. The album prominently features local rappers like Kiddo Marv, Ice Billionaire Berg, PlayThatBoiZay and Sam Sneak. Don’t get it twisted, though; a few stars do show their faces on ZUU. Rick Ross delivers an excellent verse on “BIRDZ.” Star SoundCloud producer and Curry’s former housemate Ronny J provides an incredible beat, featuring earth-shattering 808 kicks and Miami’s blown out version of the ever-popular rap flute on “P.A.T.” All the features mark their stamp on their respective track, with PlayThatBoiZay delivering the most promising, vicious and purely entertaining verse of the bunch.
Every part of every song comes together in a way that shows Curry’s love and appreciation for Miami. Each song taps directly into the feelings Curry has for his city and the people who live in it. For example, “Ricky,” the album’s lead single, is named after his father. In the chorus, Curry tells the injunctions both his father and his mother gave him, rapping, “My daddy said ‘Trust no man but your brothers / And never leave your day ones in the gutter’ / My daddy said ‘Treat young girls like your mother’ / My mama said ‘Trust no ho, use a rubber.’” Later on the same track, in true Miami form, Curry disses his rivals, claiming that he started the current wave of South Florida rap as he spits, “And your mama ain’t shit, your daddy ain’t shit / I been making waves way before Nostalgic.”
ZUU’s other songs follow suit. “CAROLMART,” named after the now-closed Carol Mart in his hometown, describes all of the influences Carol City had on Curry, ranging from local musical acts like Plies, Rick Ross and Trina, to the University of Miami and its logo-plastered apparel. Even the interludes pay homage to Miami. The album’s middle skit “YOO” describes a conversation between two men, one of whom is from Miami. The Miami man only says “YO” as a response to the other’s remarks and questions. The other man asserts that people from Miami are like no other. You’d be hard pressed to find someone from South Florida who would disagree with that.
ZUU is the most perfect love letter that Denzel Curry could have written to Miami. He gives shoutouts to his family, his friends and his influences. He even brings in his friends to collaborate with him and recount their own love for the city. Curry and his numerous guests poured their hearts and souls into this album to make sure that the entire city knows just how important and loved it really is.