#9 Danny Brown- Old
Released: October 8th
By: Dequan Huggins
Detroit has seen its share of colorful rappers, but no character has been as interesting and original as the Fools Gold experimental rapper Danny Brown. After seeing a substantial amount of success from the critical darling XXX, Brown looked to not only top his previous effort but stretch the limitations of what hip-hop should sound like sonically. Inspired by Indie Rock godfathers Radiohead, Danny Brown wandered in left field after a successful album completely ignoring what fans and critics wanted from the Detroit lyricist. Not many hip-hop based artists would fathom a risk like this, but that’s what separates Brown from others and it favors him on Old.
Structuring his album like a vinyl, its broken down into a Side A and B. Brown uses this layout to help develop the concept of the album; an artist who knows the drug dealing landscape very well, but has come accustomed to the hipster party lifestyle accompanied with sex and drugs. Brown is a conflicted being who wants to please the hardcore hip-hop purists but doesn’t want to neglect the new age suburban drug addicts who have taken a liking to him.
Old’s side A is filled with boom bap production that is very reminiscent of his older work that day one fans were accustomed to. The drug dealing references are strategically placed throughout as Danny gives into the demand for him to return to his old form. “They want that old Danny Brown, to bag up and sell a whole pound, might have to go and get my braids back matter of fact, go and bring them AKs back”, Danny spits on the opening track “Side A (Old).” Brown’s lyrics are so colorful and imaginative that when his records tell a story—“Wonderbread” for example—the listener can imagine what an anything but ordinary walk to the store in Detroit would be like. Detailing every feeling, Brown has no problem making you question your comfort on songs like “Torture.” So descriptive with his writing, the Michigan emcee discuses the horrors of being in the drug dealing business and the repercussions of fiends choosing to cross kingpins (“Remember one time, dawg, this fiend owed the boss put peanut Butter on her pussy, let his pits lick it off”). Using pathos, Brown gains the listeners sympathy making you understand why he has chosen to give up a life of crime and torment. The end of side A shows the slight maturation of Brown comprehending that must get his act together for the sake of his family and those depending on him, which essentially sets up side B.
Recognizing his talent as an artist Brown starts side B with the track “Dope Song,” which is a vow to be his last song about selling dope. The instrumentals become more electronic and experimental on side B, shifting the attention away from the lyrics. Sex, drugs, and party are the themes for the second half records creating a fun and lighthearted mood that Brown’s new fans love from him. Drawing from the inspirations the United Kingdom’s grime and dubstep scene, Danny Brown designs side B to be played loudly at sinful suburban parties.
Although Danny’s decision to give up drug dealing for drug using is slightly counterproductive, it definitely is a choice that he doesn’t regret. His transition from street rapper to fun party guy without sacrificing his integrity of art has led him nothing but success. Old serves a timeline for Danny and can only make him proud knowing that he weathered the storm eventually making something out of himself.
Favorite Song: Dope Fiend Rental, Torture, Float On
Weakest Song: Way Up There (Ab-Soul’s verse is trash)