Denzel Curry was born and raised in Carol City. He's watched the uptown Miami neighborhood go from sort of rundown to downright violent, split into warring areas by gangs and drug dealers. Still, the neighborhood remains a hotbed of cultural activity, spitting out more successful rappers than any other area of the 305. The people of Carol City are fiercely loyal to their streets. Plus, the Jamaican food is fucking fire.
VICE: How would you describe Carol City to someone who's never been there?Denzel Curry: That's the original, you feel me? That's where most people got started like Rick Ross, Gunplay, myself, Young Breeze. That's uptown. That's basically the safe haven for us but nevertheless, it's the hood at the same time. That's where we were raised, and that's what it is. I would say all of Miami is a cultural melting pot but that's where you get most of your Jamaicans, your Bahamians, and your Yanks at the same time. You find a lot of stuff around there.
What is it about the neighborhood that's led to so many musical artists?
I just think it's the environment. All of us went to Carol City High. Even Flo Rida went there. I think just by the programs that were there and the activities, and the outside activities, the hoods and everything—it just really made the people what they are today.
What was it like when you were a kid?
It was cool for the most part. We just kids playing peewee league, optimist football, doing regular kid shit. Then you get older and you play man hunt … That was a good way for us to figure out the neighborhood and how to get out of certain situations when we got older. You've got to know your surroundings. You've got to know your alleyways and neighborhoods.
We never seen it as that, we just saw it as a game. But as I got older, kids started carrying guns and kids started dying left and right around 2008, 2009. It just kept going, and it ended up eventually getting to the younger kids and younger generation that was growing up there. Some of them were getting killed at young ages, like ninth grade and shit. Carol City crazy, man, but it's home at the same time.
How is it these days?
It's the same. You could build stuff around it, but you can't put a tuxedo on a piece of shit. Gentrification makes it worse, because they're tearing down stuff in the city and causing other people to migrate more north toward Carol City. You'll have people that've been on that murder and shit livin' in the same place that other murderers are already fighting over sections. Adding more fuel to the fire type shit.
On a lighter note, where is the best place to eat in Carol City?
I like Hammond's Bakery, that's a little Jamaican restaurant over there. That place is good as hell. Carol Mart, they're about to close it down but I used to go there a lot, get your haircut, get your clothes over there. They have Jamaican restaurants and shit there, too. I would say Finga Licking is very known out there. Everybody goes there and shit to eat. That's what DJ Khaled and them created over there.
What Jamaican food should everyone try?
Jerk chicken, curry goat, curry chicken. Most of that stuff. That's what I would recommend to somebody. Rum cake is good as fuck. Jamaican patties, whether you get beef or chicken, it doesn't matter. Them shits is good as fuck no matter what anybody tell ya. Plantains, but Jamaicans be stingy with the plantains.
What's the best park in Carol City?
We'll just find a place to play anywhere. Not necessarily parks, but there's Betty T. Ferguson (Recreational Complex). People go out there to get they work out on or play football, but most of us be playing street football or street basketball. We don't really like going to parks because sometimes parks get shot up and shit. Sometimes thugs be hanging out in the parks at the corner store over there by 183rd and two doors down away from Carol City High. They be gamblin' in the back and shit, just random, and sometimes shit be going down, so I don't really go to the park like that.
What else is an important part of Carol City?
The best of it is just hanging out with your homies in Carol City, that's what makes the best of it, going to your friends house in CC, not really going to places or clubs or nothing like that. The clubs, you gotta go downtown. They don't really got nothing in the inner city. They used to, but they don't have it anymore.
You make a point of it to rep Carol City really hard. What makes you so proud of your neighborhood?
I've seen a lot of people come out of Carol City, but I had this distinct vision for Carol City, just me coming out of there because my music is so different from anybody else who came out of there. I wanted to really describe what Carol City was to me, why I loved it so much, why it's sometimes bad and what can be changed about it. I just want to build awareness for my city. But if it wasn't for Carol City, I wouldn't be the person I am today.