Danny Brown has a unique voice, his content is “out there”, he doesn’t get any radio play, and many have never heard of him. I think it’s time we change that.
On the verge of excellence with his last project entitled XXX, Danny Brown seems to have impossibly stepped his game up on OLD. In a year of disappointing followups Danny once again swims against the current and puts out what many are calling an Album of the Year contender. There are few musical acts able to portray the versatility the Detroit-born rapper can, and even less hip hop artists. His bipolar-esque musical choices and the different characters he’s been able to build flow freely yet organized to a T on OLD.
OLD’s first side (simply referred to as Side A) gives us a glimpse into the harsh reality of run down, dangerous neighborhoods of Detroit. Unlike most rappers, however, Danny doesn’t glorify the gangster lifestyle. He’s brutally honest and self-aware while singing biographical odes to the place he calls home. Whether he’s referring to his former drug salesmanship (SIDE A (OLD)), his beautiful metaphor about the things he saw on his way to pick up groceries (WONDERBREAD), or the sad glimpse into his mindset (LONELY), Danny repeatedly puts all he has to offer into his music. Rappers love to talk about growing up poor, sacrificing themselves for the street, and getting involved with drugs, but Danny Brown is the only rapper who can make a listener understand the brutality and dark-demeanored mindset of what life is actually like before success.
OLD’s second half, Side B, feels like a reward. Whether it’s Danny using the side as a metaphor for rising above the oft ill-fated expectations of his neighborhood’s youth or simply rewarding the listener for listening to his quirky autobiography, it works. With a heavy mix of EDM, dubstep, and trap, Danny blows up and lets it all hang out on the latter half. His one true love, Molly, gets its own anthem in DIP. His intercoursal desires make their move in BREAK IT (GO) and HANDSTAND, and of course his love for marijuana relays itself heavily in KUSH COMA. The difference with Danny’s trap anthems, however, is that he is always pushing the limits and pre-conceived notions of club bangers when it comes to the beats he raps over. He tends to stay away from anything normal and lets loose with the help of crazy samples, uninitiated rhythmic schemes, and 4/4 beats that would see almost every aspiring rapper’s head hurt.
There is no doubt Danny Brown will soon be a name that will refuse to be overlooked. If you’re new to him, start from the beginning. His albums are an autobiography; often revisiting his days as a young dope dealer, allowing us to feel his pain as a failing rapper, and giving us a glimpse into the mind of a drug-riddled warrior. Danny is unexplainably talented. Danny is fearless. But most of all, Danny Brown is bat-shit crazy, and you should love every second of it.
Written by Matt Lockwood
Matt Lockwood is a writer, stand up comedian, and hip hop enthusiast. Follow him on twitter at @MattManMelvin.