How Luke Skywalker, Muay Thai, and the Roots Inspired Denzel Curry’s New Album

But they ain’t gon’ fuck with someone if they’re corny. Like you know Luke is the good guy, but they made him look raw. It’s not no Superman shit where it’s corny. The game needs a nigga that can still fuck shit up but as a force for good, not trying to get rich off of ego and shit. Don’t get me wrong: I love listening to gangsta rap. I love listening to Lil Durk and Gucci Mane and [NBA Youngboy] and all that shit. I was listening to Gucci and Durk’s “Rumors” [by Gucci Mane and Lil Durk] five minutes ago. But I think it’s oversaturated right now. There needs to be at least one nigga with a green lightsaber. Just one!


Kanye West’s Graduation

I wanted something that was gonna sound big. Certain tracks are Soulquarians-based, but then others are Graduation-based. I wanted some of these songs to sound like they belonged in stadiums. “Sanjuro,” “X-Wing,” “The Last,” and “Ain’t No Way,” are definitely my Graduation times. If you listen to that album, it has a variety of beats, too. I just wanted something that sounded as colorful.

I seen all three parts of [Netflix’s Kanye West documentary] jeen-yuhsand it . The doc humanized Kanye for me. I’m watching him get shit on as a rapper and he reminded me of the times I’ve been shit on as a rapper because people don’t take me seriously. Watching it happen to someone as great as Kanye West made me realize he persevered through that shit. He earned the right to talk his shit. It taught me a lot about being overconfident.

I’m not always the most confident person unless I know it’s something I can stand behind. If I have to perform, I know I’ll blow these other niggas out the water because they can’t perform. But when it comes to my music itself, I’m not as confident because I don’t know what people will gravitate toward. Two of my three biggest hits [“Ultimate” and “Clout Cobain”] happened by accident and one of them [“Ricky”] happened on purpose. I can be discouraged because I know my music is good, but someone might be like, “Oh, you one of them rapping niggas, huh?” And that would discourage me. jeen-yuhs confirmed to me that I should be confident in my music no matter what, even if nobody wants to listen to it.

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Getty Images

martial arts

Denzel Curry: In Muay Thai—a form of kickboxing originating from Thailand—the main thing is that when you’re sparring with someone, you’re there to train techniques. You’re already working on your own thing, and he’s already working on his own thing. It comes down to eliminating ego. If you make a mistake or a bad choice, you get messed up. It reinforced certain things that I needed to learn: Focus on yourself, don’t let your ego get the best of you, listen, and be ready to strike when the iron’s hot. I was so worried about what all these other rappers are doing, instead of focusing on what I needed to be doing for this project.


Dunes

“Zatoichi” is a song about the blind leading the blind, which is always what happens here in America. In Dunes, Paul Atreides is supposed to be the “hero,” but [Dune author] Frank Herbert wrote the book to tell people to beware of heroes because they’re just as blind. Ironically, Atreides goes blind in Dunes. “Zatoichi” was just another way of saying the blind can’t lead the blind, but we do it anyway.


Sergio Leone movies

The main Leone films that inspired the Western aesthetic were the “Dollars Trilogy”—A Fistful of Dollars; For A Few Dollars More; and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which is probably the best one out of the three. I was just interested in the techniques that he used for filming because I’m really into film. I love how the protagonists of those movies are walking at the beginning, so that was the inspiration for “Walkin.”

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