Danny Brown

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Hot Soup (2008) , 5/10
The Hybrid (2010), 6.5/10
Hawaiian Snow (2010), 6/10
XXX (2011), 7/10
OLD (2013), 7/10
Atrocity Exhibition (2016), 6/10
Uknowhatimsayin (2019), 6/10
Jpegmafia & Danny Brown: Scaring the Hoes (2023), 6.5/10
Quaranta (2023), 4.5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Detroit's rapper Danny Brown, a former member of Reser'vor Dogs, debuted with Hot Soup (2008) and The Hybrid (2010). Hawaiian Snow (2010) was a collaboration with G-Unit's Haitian-born rapper Tony Yayo (Marvin Bernard).

The claustrophobic XXX (2011) was basically a collection of suicidal odes, starting with XXX, in which disjointed gloomy audio signs emit a sense of drama in multiple directions, and ending with the social fresco Fields. Noteworthy are the songs produced by Skywlkr (Skylar Tait): Die Like a Rockstar, Lie4, Bruiser Brigade, and the surreal Outer Space. Other creative productions include Radio Song by Brandun Deshay, Monopoly by Quelle, and the spaghetti-western soundtrack for African caravans Scrap or Die by Paul White. However, the album also included the party anthems Blunt After Blunt and I Will..

The EP Black and Brown (2011) exposed Brown's wildest side, but mostly thanks to the explosive sound provided by Detroit's producer Black Milk (Curtis Cross).

OLD (Fool's Gold, 2013) is two albums in one. The first side is a carnival of creative productions and tantalizing raps. The parade begins with Paul White's thick claustrophobic arrangement for Side A and The Return, penning in the latter the most tragic atmosphere of the album. Like on the previous album, the songs seem to compete for utter dejection: the industrial expressionist nightmare Dope Fiend Rental, produced by Skywlkr Torture, produced by Oh No (Michael Jackson) and radiating almost a religious feeling, with monk choir and funeral beats, and the Paul White-produced Clean Up, with Indian war dance and lysergic backup vocals. Even when Brown tries detours into lightweight fare, the results are upsetting and unnerving, as if in the ditty 25 Bucks, produced by Corin Roddick of Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring with undercurrent of apocalyptic electronics, and the cabaret-ish Wonderbread, produced by Paul White. The second side of the album is much less intense. Rustie's childish beats Side B - Dope Song and Break It - Go are emblematic. And the six songs framed by two Skywlkr productions, Dip and Kush Coma, basically constitute a sex-and-drugs suite.

By comparison, Danny Brown's Atrocity Exhibition (Warp, 2016), almost entirely produced by Paul White, is an irreverent merry-go-round of brief songs, lo-fi beats, and hippy freak-ery. There are five highlights. First and foremost, the demented circus polka Ain't It Funny. Next the limping, fractured, vibraphone-tinged White Lines, produced by The Alchemist. Then the three singles: When It Rain, produced by Paul White (like most of the album), in which he wears a comic register worthy of a cartoon of chipmunks over a childish pounding beat; Pneumonia, produced by Evian Christ, that sounds like a Burmese street band with a rapper just released from the madhouse (ancient memories of the great David Peel); and Really Doe, produced by Black Milk, a skeletal composition with tinning bells. The rocking Tell me what I don't Know and Golddust and the exotic muzak of Dance in the Water are cute novelties, but there is too much that doesn't work here. This should have been a six-song EP.

Many of the playful songs on the brief, 33-minute Uknowhatimsayin (Warp, 2019) feel like comic skits, but Danny Brown's silly lyrics are not the reason to listen to the album: the real treat is the production (mostly Q-Tip and Paul White) that shapes each song in a different style and mood. Theme Song veers towards chamber music, Dirty Laundry is hip-hop's version of vaudeville, the Jpegmafia-produced 3 Tearz is warped blues. Qtip's production peaks with the midly dissonant boom-bap fanfare Combat, and the way he sneaks a sample of Tommy McGee's funk-soul hit To Make You Happy into Best Life, although the best instrumental touch could be the jazzy synth and guitar blob in Flying Lotus-produced Negro Spiritual. The White-produced Belly Of The Beast is cinematic but not very musical. The trap-infected Savage Nomad is the best of the verbose songs.

He then collaborated with Jpegmafia for Scaring the Hoes (2023). [Go to the Jpegmafia's page]

Danny Brown's Quaranta (2023) is mostly a somber, chill autobiography via chapters like Quaranta and Down Wit It, bordering on easy listening pop in Shakedown. The sleepy tone is interrupted by the silly ditty Y.B.P. (best delivery and best rhythm) and by rare aggressive moments (Jennís Terrific Vacation). It's clearly a minor work, a hip-hop version of the intimate singer-songwriter of the 1970s or of the confessional neo-soul of the 2000s.

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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