Like so many kids of the Blockbuster generation, the eclectic Miami rapper Denzel Curry, 27, grew up renting the same movie over and over. For Curry, it was Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi. His father, who he immortalized in his 2019 anthem “Ricky,” put him on to Jedi. Once he did, Curry never wanted to watch anything else. “Luke Skywalker with the green lightsaber and shit,” he remembers thinking. “Oh, this shit is hard.” Eventually, Ricky had to say, “man, watch another Star Wars movie!” Curry moved on to his all-time favorite, The Empire Strikes Back, and eventually to the entire franchise, from the prequels to the modern-day TV series.
Curry’s current obsession? The Mandalorian. He loves the way it echoes stuff like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or Lone Wolf and Cub. He particularly liked the series’ second-season finale, which inspired his grandest video production yet: “X-Wing.” At a time when videos often get sidelined, the trippy visuals in “X-Wing” are wildly ambitious, featuring Curry piloting a spacecraft around a place he calls Komodo City. For music and sci-fi nerds alike, the video, released alongside the “Extended Edition” of his latest album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, is a rare treat, and a stellar three minutes.
Before explaining the video’s origin, Curry kindly asks if I’m caught up with The Mandalorian—a respectful spoiler alert. Then he takes me back to his internal monologue while watching the show’s last few minutes. “An X-wing shows up. And it’s like, ‘An X-wing? Great!’ And then I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute. There’s only one person that drives that shit. They ain’t gon’ do that shit.’ So you see somebody with a cloaked hoodie. … Then you see the glove and the green lightsaber, and it was like, ‘They did that shit! Oh shit!’”
The impact of Luke Skywalker appearing for a deus ex machina hit his whole household hard. His girlfriend started crying. Curry was inspired to sing. “The hook just came to me, naturally.” He croons it happily, “I don’t want a car, I want a X-wiiiing.” He thought, “This is what the rap game needs”—a hero “that don’t take no shit, that’s still fire, but at the same time is a force for good. That’s what inspired me to bring sci-fi into the music.”
Collaborating with producer David Wept, Curry worked on the video’s treatment, imagining the minute details and expanded universe of Komodo City. In the spirit of the original Star Wars trilogy, he wanted to use “real places, less CGI.” Still, he knew the budget would be an issue, so he squirreled away money as it was coming in from shows and streams to splurge on the production.