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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Denzel Curry lights up Marathon Music Works with an incendiary performance

On Sept. 17, Denzel Curry brought his sound, flair and fury to Nashville’s Marathon Music Works.
William Yuk
Denzel Curry in concert at Marathon Music Works, as photographed on Sept. 17, 2022. (Hustler Staff/William Yuk)

Despite being hailed as an American musical mecca, hip-hop showcases are difficult to come by in Nashville, a city that country and bluegrass built. Yet, within the intimate and dimly lit confines of Nashville’s very own Marathon Music Works, Denzel Curry managed to channel the same energy as sold-out spectacles of Kendrick Lamar, Baby Keem and J. Cole that I witnessed back in New York.

Curry currently finds himself in a stage of his career he refers to as his “green lightsaber moment.” Opening with a barrage of tracks from his latest album “Melt My Eyes, See Your Future,” it is clear that, like Luke Skywalker under the tutelage of master Yoda, Curry has found balance in expanding his rapping range. No longer relying on the aggressive and free-flowing vocals that put him on the map half a decade ago, Curry mesmerized the audience with meticulously crafted, carefully controlled and clearly enunciated lyrics that sliced through our eardrums with the precision of a lightsaber. 

There are very few environments that are as erratic as a concert moshpit. Throughout the opening act, moshes opened and closed within the sea of concertgoers, sucking everyone in and spitting them out in all directions like waterspouts. Though the pit was already filled to the brim by the time I arrived at the venue, I was serendipitously whisked to the very front by the flow of people closing in on a mosh, giving me quite literally a $1,000 view of one of the hottest emcees in the game. 

There was still a surprising sense of solidarity in the midst of such chaos. As the concert progressed, I found myself learning the names and hometowns of nearly everyone within a 5-foot vicinity. When I wasn’t hanging on to the rails for dear life, I was chatting up an attendee to my right who drove down to Nashville all the way from Indiana, trading bars with the girl in front of me who had committed nearly all of Denzel Curry’s lyrics to memory and relishing in the community around me which the guy to my left referred to as “a big sweaty group hug.”

As the concert waned on, Curry’s stage presence intensified. During his performance of “Dog Food,” he enlisted the help of the roaring crowd, resulting in an electrifying interplay between Curry’s blistering verses and a series of calls and responses between the audience. 

The crowd’s energy reached its zenith when Curry paused, spread his legs wide and crouched down in preparation for a run-through of some of his greatest hits. He started with a thunderous rendition of “Sumo” and ended with his immensely popular breakout hit “Ultimate.” These performances were accompanied by a dizzying array of flashing strobe lights and all four of his opening acts, including D.C.’s Redveil and the collective AG Club. The string of hits served as a sobering reminder that the Denzel Curry of the past is just one “power position” away from firing up the crowd like it’s 2016. 

Curry closed out the concert with newer tracks like “X-Wing” and “The Ills,” which formed an exhilarating tandem of chilled-out braggadocio and intense introspection. Afterward, Curry briefly left the stage, only to storm back and deliver a triumphant encore performance of “ULT,” the fan-favorite grimy and abrasive lead single from his sophomore album “Imperial.” Before making his final exit, Curry–a proud and outspoken nerd–channeled the power of rap and anime in true master-of-ceremonies fashion, emulating moves from popular shows like rasengan from “Naruto Shippuden” and the spirit bomb from “Dragon Ball Z” to orchestrate a series of cheers from his fans. 

Curry’s performance amounted to an emphatically eye-melting, ear-splitting and pulse-pounding audiovisual spectacle that exemplified hip-hop’s ability to create cathartic and exhilarating communal experiences.

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About the Contributor
William Yuk
William Yuk, Staff Writer
William Yuk ('25) is from Long Island, New York, and plans on majoring in Human and Organizational Development and English in Peabody College. When he's not churning out music content, you can catch him dozing off on the couches of the EBI Great Room, reminiscing about his mom's pork and chive dumplings or moshing to Lo-fi hip hop beats. He can be reached at [email protected].
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