Miami rap’s prodigal son, Denzel Curry, will fight for his city in a five-round lyrical boxing match against Atlanta’s J.I.D. next month. The ringside showdown is set to take place in the Magic City Innovation District during a new event called Red Bull Zeltron World Wide, which takes its name from one of Curry’s alter egos. The Red Bull-sponsored event was announced to the public today and is scheduled to go down Saturday, January 18.
Curry will already enter the scuffle a certified champion: Critics and fans have hailed his May 2019 album, Zuu, as one of the best hip-hop LPs of the year. The record’s title is a reference to a nickname for Carol City, the Miami Gardens neighborhood where the rapper was born and raised. As the origin story goes, Curry began rapping in the sixth grade and released his first mixtape at the age of 16. In 2013, he dropped his debut album, Nostalgic 64, before graduating from high school. By 2016, he was murdering lines as the fiercest freestyler in an XXL Freshman class that included Kodak Black, Lil Dicky, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Desiigner, Lil Uzi Vert, and Anderson Paak.
His verbal stunt work tends to leave listeners in awe; he speaks honestly and directly about injustice and social ills while leaving enough room in his music for partying and getting down. Curry commands respect from his hip-hop peers and has collaborated with the likes of Rick Ross, Joey Bada$$, and Juicy J. He previously worked with J.I.D. on “Sirens,” off 2018’s TA1300, a supersmooth ballad that tackles everything from American sin to one-sided romance in less than four minutes.
J.I.D. is a strong counterpart to Curry’s quick-witted style. The Dreamville representative broke the game open with a melodic flow that stuffs more syllables into listeners’ ears than was thought possible. He was honored as an XXL Freshman two years after Curry and was set to join the stellar Mac Miller and Thundercat on tour; unfortunately, those plans fell through following Miller’s tragic September 2018 passing. J.I.D.’s signature style is slick enough that he’s been able to nab verses from A$AP Ferg, Method Man, 6lack, and Joey Bada$$ on his own tracks.
No matter who emerges victorious, the real winner in this clash of rap titans will be the fans who get to watch Curry and J.I.D. trade lyrical blows.
Red Bull has a strong history of organizing can’t-miss music and cultural events in the Magic City. In 2013, the Red Bull Culture Clash awarded a championship belt to the local squad Basshead after it brought out Trick Daddy and the 69 Boys for live performances. The local edition of United States of Bass in 2015 gathered Uncle Luke, Craze, DJ Sliink, Egyptian Lover, and other acts under the stars in Gramps’ backyard for a legendary night that’s seared into the memory of all who attended.
Curry will no doubt walk away a winner at Red Bull Zeltron World Wide on his own merits, but support is a crucial part of success. Were there ever a show perfect for flaunting your 305 pride, it’s this one.
Red Bull Zeltron World Wide. 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday, January 18, at Magic City Innovation District, 6301 NE Fourth Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $15 to $25 via redbull.com.