Last Friday, Florida rapper Denzel Curry released the long-awaited deluxe re-release of his 2022 album “Melt My Eyez See Your Future (The Extended Edition).” The new release features all of the tracks originally featured on the March 2022 version of the album, with an additional 40-plus minute live arrangement of many of the same tracks. This version of the album — which Curry has deemed the “Cold Blooded Soul” version — was recorded and live-streamed at the Komodo City Café the day before the release, featuring Curry on vocals and a live jazz band performing several of the album’s hit tracks, along with a few new ones.
The concept of a remix album is nothing new to Curry, who last year released “Unlocked 1.5,” a remixed version of his 2020 collab with Kenny Beats, “Unlocked.” The deluxe, remixed version of the album featured new producers and rappers such as Smino, Benny the Butcher and the Alchemist, reimagining the original project with new beats and verses. Denzel had previously spoke on his idea for what a remix album should be, saying it was a way to grant listeners a new perspective on old material while getting to work with some of his musician friends in the process.
The expanded edition of “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” functions similarly, with the futuristic boom-bap sound of the original replaced with the live instrumentation of Curry’s 10-piece backing jazz ensemble, the Cold Blooded Soul Band. While the album lyrically remains more or less the same as its studio-recorded counterpart, the new instrumentation harkens back to Curry’s original vision for the project — a looser, more jazz-inspired sound than the South Florida-style trap his earlier albums were built around. It’s a sound most similar to other live rap albums, like Mac Miller’s “Live From Space” or J. Cole’s “Forest Hills Drive: Live,” taking the rapper’s strong stage presence and playing it off the backing band’s high-energy yet minimalist interpretations of the classic boom-bap aesthetic.
Following the same sequencing as the original album, the “Cold Blooded Soul” version opens up with the lyrically dense “Melt Session #1,” in which Curry reflects on the toll his career has taken on his mental health, and the album’s single “Walkin,” with two catchy, southern-style flows. Both songs were favorites from the original release and the new, jazzy versions serve them both well, interpolating the familiar beats with a fresh perspective, letting the attention linger on the commanding presence Curry has developed as a performer. He only sounds more confident as the band transitions to mid-album cuts like “Worst Comes to Worst,” interjecting sections of his own singing voice and clearly having fun performing the lyrics fans have already become accustomed to.
And while the original version of “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” featured great guest spots from featured artists like T-Pain, JID and Slowthai, the Cold Blooded Soul version is a largely solo performance, keeping the audience’s attention focused on Curry’s flow and stage presence as an MC. These songs, where Curry needs to compensate for lost production and guest vocals, end up being the live album’s high and low points. The original version of “Troubles” was a poppy mid-album cut with an infectious hook by T-Pain, but when performing the song live and by himself, Curry’s attempts at staccato high notes come off as clunkier than the effortless confidence of his verses — one of which was new just for the re-release. The opposite, however, is the case for “X-Wing,” a track that in the original version of the album featured heavy vocal distortions and a baby-voice flow on the hook. Live, however, the synthesized arpeggios are replaced with groovy piano flourishes, and Curry’s performance of the hook is debatably even catchier than the studio version.
Two new tracks are inserted into the live performance of the album, “Chrome Hearts (Feat. Zacari)” and “Larger Than Life,” taking the place of higher energy, overproduced tracks from the original project that wouldn’t have fit the jazz reinterpretation. “Chrome Hearts” features singer Zacari, who comes in for a stage-stealing pair of hooks, despite Curry’s serviceable yet familiar writing on the verses. The stronger of the two is “Larger Than Life,” a braggadocious cut where Curry raps about chasing his dreams and his extensive rapping skills behind a repetitive synthesizer riff. Both songs work in the context of the live performance, keeping the attention on Curry and his charisma. Still, it is also easy to see why they were among the tracks recorded for the studio album that didn’t make the original cut.
Overall, the re-release of “Melt My Eyez See Your Future” works more as an artistic statement or proof-of-concept for Curry than as a meaningful expansion of the original. Fans of the original project will surely love the new interpretations of old favorites as well as a few new cuts — but beyond the novelty of seeing the album’s futuristic aesthetic performed with stripped-down production, the Cold Blooded Soul re-release doesn’t have anywhere near the stakes that the title implies. If Curry really wants to record a jazz-rap album this bad, he should just make one from scratch.