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If TA13OO was the big win, then ZUU was the victory lap. TA13OO felt like an album that was carefully (and successfully) constructed to be looked at as a classic, and once Denzel had a classic under his belt, he decided to do what he does best and remind the world that he's one of the most powerful rappers around. As more of a no-frills rap album, ZUU feels a little closer to Imperial than to TA13OO, but it's also clearly on another level than what he was doing on Imperial. Denzel had sharpened his skills so much by 2019 that basically everything he touched turned to gold, and the songs on ZUU are among his most memorable and accessible. To revisit the Kendrick Lamar comparison from earlier, if TA13OO is Denzel's good kid, m.A.A.d city, he kinda jumped straight to DAMN. with ZUU. In both cases, the albums may seem more simple on the surface, but they're full of some of each artist's biggest crowdpleasers. Denzel got a lot more popular with ZUU, and it's easy to see why, but he didn't cater to the mainstream to do so. He just leaned in to the most widely-appealing parts of his already-great sound and sharpened his skills in the process. - Andrew Sacher
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