It’s almost a tradition at this point for rappers to bring live accompaniment to their NPR Tiny Desk performances, but Denzel Curry took the concept to another level in his newly released show. To cap off Black Music Month, the South Florida rapper packed the station’s cramped concert space with his nine-piece Cold-Blooded Soul Band for a six-track set that spanned the past four years, and four albums, of his prolific career.
Buoyed by bass, guitar, keyboard, drum kit, congas, and brass, Curry started the show with three cuts from his most recent record, March’s Melt My Eyez See Your Future. He opened with “Melt Session #1,” with Jay Winfield standing in for Robert Glasper — who features on the song’s studio version — on keys. For the next two tracks, Curry brought on his long-time collaborator DJ POSHtronaut: He provided vocal support on “Walkin” and “Troubles,” which was preceded by a shoutout to T-Pain, a fellow Florida native and the featured singer on the album version of the track — and perhaps the artist whose career has benefited most from his own Tiny Desk appearance, which earned him widespread critical acclaim and an unexpected second act.
In the set’s latter half, Curry drew from his earlier catalog, pulling “DIET_” from 2020’s UNLOCKED and “CLOUT COBAIN | CLOUT CO13A1N” from 2018’s TA13OO before finishing with “RICKY,” a standout from his 2019 LP ZULU. In a longer performance, he might have made it back even further, to the music that made him SoundCloud famous in his late teens — though these tracks may have presented some challenges for his live ensemble. Still, his Tiny Desk Concert is easily one of the series’ most comprehensive sets.