I first heard Denzel Aquarius Killa Curry a.k.a Raven Miyagi on Metro Zu’s “Mink Rug” tape on the track “Pantheon” where he raps superfast over a slow, wavy beat. His verse on that track really stood out to me as well as he guest appearances on Mike Dece and Ruben Slikk’s “Proper Boyz” mixtape.
Then, I checked out Denzel’s King Of The Mysterious South mixtape which is a super raw collection of dark, intense songs especially the murder anthem “Headcrack” which is one of my favorite Raider Klan tracks still. I talked with Denzel via phone about martial arts, Outkast, Orange Juice and more…
Nick Vogt: How did you get started rapping?
Denzel Curry: Basically I grew up in a family of brothers and we all used to rap. One of my older brothers taught me how to rap and I got into it when I was like 12.
And you’re 17 now?
Denzel: Yeah I’m the youngest in the Klan. I’m 17.
Right. But you’ve been rapping for like 5 years. Which is actually kind of a long time.
Denzel: Yeah you can call it a long time.
Your flow is really unique. I feel like when most people talk about you that’s kind of the first thing that comes up. My friend called it “quadruple time” the other day. How did you develop that flow and that style of rapping? Did you just have that from the start? Did you just decide “I wanna rap this way.” Or were there influences on that style?
Denzel: For influences it’s Nas and Lupe Fiasco and then I’ve got southern influences…Outkast and UGK and Three Six Mafia…At first I didn’t realize there was like six members of Three Six Mafia. And then I got into Lord Infamous and his shit was crazy. I liked how he was flowing. It was real fast.
Yeah most people when they think of Three Six it’s Juicy J and DJ Paul. I don’t think Lord Infamous is the first dude who comes to mind usually. He’s one of the lesser known guys in the group.
Denzel: Yeah, man. I’m influenced by a lot of things. But, that was a major influence. I like his rhyme schemes. It was lyrical. I like lyical shit. Most of these niggas…they make gay ass music. And I don’t.
What about “Raven Miyagi.” That’s your alter ego, right?
Denzel: The thing about Raven Miyagi is we had me and Simmie’s tape “Black Raven.” And Purrp really loved that shit. He was like “You Raven Miyagi!” And the “Aquarius Killa” thing is because I was born in February. I’m an Aquarius. And I kill beats. Aquarius Killa.
Okay. So maybe “Raven Miyagi” isn’t as mysterious as I thought…
Denzel: Well, Raven Miyagi is like a split personality. I got a split personality. Raven Miyagi is mischievous. That’s my other side…And, you know, I do Karate and shit.
That’s awesome. How long have you been doing Karate for?
Denzel: Five years.
That’s great, dude. I’m actually a black belt in Kung Fu so I can relate to that…This next question is kinda random: You have that song “Phantasm” that samples the trailer from that old movie. Are you a huge fan of Phantasm?
Denzel: Yeah. My mom had that movie. That shit scared me. It made me not want to drink orange juice. [Laughs] That was nasty, but that was a hard ass movie. So, I was psyched to do the song. And to use that ATLiens beat. You know I had to start it out like Andre 3000 did.
Oh yeah. You quote him with the “One for the money…” stuff.
Denzel: Yeah, that’s the “Elevators” beat originally.
Supa from Sortahuman linked us up to do this interview. He’s a really cool guy. And you have a song with him that “Planet Shrooms” track. How did you end up working with him?
Denzel: We met through Facebook originally. That’s a cool ass dude right there. So, I was like “Yo, I wanna do a track with him.” He had some shit I could get buck to. All of those Sortahuman guys are dope.
This is another question about someone you’ve worked with. You’ve worked with Lil’ Ugly Mane a couple times now. I know he’s worked with Sortahuman a lot, but I think the people he’s most connected to is Raider Klan actually.
Denzel: Yeah, you could say that he has a Raider Klan connection because he did all our album art. Me and him made a classic. And then he sent me a beat and me and Simmie made that into a classic.
He seems super mysterious.
Denzel: Yeah. He’s very mysterious. I didn’t even know he and Shawn Kemp were the same person. And then Supa told me “Yo, they’re the same guy.”
I think Sortahuman and Ugly Mane are doing a project together. They’re calling it “Sortahuman and Shawn Kemp,” But obviously that’s Ugly Mane.
Denzel: Damn. Yeah, that’ll be a classic. I want that in a hard copy. Like a physical disc.
Your latest mixtape is Strictly 4 My R.A.I.D.E.R.S, right? And that came out like a month ago? Even though the tape you did before “R.A.I.D.E.R.S,” King Of The Mysterious South didn’t come out only in February, I can hear a real improvement from “Mysterious South” to “R.A.I.D.E.R.S” They’re both good, but I think you got a lot better from February to now. Would you agree with that?
Denzel: Yes, Because on “Mysterious South” I said some real trill shit, some real Three Six, Memphis shit. And I love that shit, but I think most rappers don’t have to keep their same style. They can change it up. So, I wanted to do something different with “R.A.I.D.E.R.S”
Yeah, Strictly 4 My R.A.I.D.E.R.S is different, for sure. Especially tracks like “A Life In The Day” that sounds pretty far from most of the stuff on “Mysterious South.”
Denzel: Andre 3000 was a huge influence on that song. I wanted to make a song about what I was going through in my life. My grandmother just died and Mike Dece and Ruben Slikk got kicked out the Klan and everything. I really wanted to do that track so people would see where I’m coming from. It’s easy to talk about murder, but it’s not as easy to talk about your life. You know what I’m saying?
Yeah definitely. On Strictly 4 My R.A.I.D.E.R.S you have a beat by Shlohmo and I feel like the hip hop world is pretty different from what he normally makes.
Denzel: What happened with Shlohmo is Purrp hit me up like “Dude, Shlohmo put that track with you and Lil’ Ugly Mane up!” And, I didn’t know who Shlohmo was at the time, but I listened to his stuff and was like “Yo, this guys good!” He reminds me of Flying Lotus a little bit.
Yeah, he’s good. I saw him open for Lil B a couple months ago which was cool. It’s great you were able to work with him. It’s cool Shlohmo could be a fan of your music and then work with you in a pretty quick amount of time. And it’s just a cool collab across genres.
Denzel: Yeah, I don’t really go outside of rap, but me and my brothers listen to punk and metal and shit. We listen to Mastodon and Pantera and watch Dragonball Z at the same time.
The whole Dragonball Z soundtrack was all metal shit. I could see a metal influence on you with songs like “Headcrack.” Wasn’t Tyler, The Creator talking about that song at one point?
Denzel: What happened was that me and Simmie were at the Odd Future Pop Up Shop. that’s where we met. And Left Brain was just like “What’s up, Denzel Curry? I fuck with that ‘Twiztin’ track.” And a lot of Odd Future talked about us on Twitter. Earl shouted me out recently on Twitter, too.
Oh, yeah. Earl’s been quoting Metro Zu on Twitter a lot, too.
Denzel: Yeah, it’s because all of us are in the same boat. All of us are young niggas just trying to make it. That’s how it is for Metro Zu, Raider Klan, A$AP, Odd Future. All of us are in the same boat.- Nick Vogt