Showing posts with label danny brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label danny brown. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

video review: 'uknowhatimsayin¿' by danny brown

Yeah, really wanted to love this one... shame I don't, but it's not bad all the same...

Anyway, next up I think I'm going to tackle Angel Olsen next - stay tuned!

album review: 'uknowhatimsayin¿' by danny brown

In his series Whatever Happened To Alternative Nation, music critic Steven Hyden once identified Alice In Chains' sophomore album Dirt as a 'unrelentingly grim collection of songs about how people should never, ever shoot heroin' - and he's not wrong. That album, for as potent as it is, might be one of the most nightmarish grunge albums ever made that describes that form of drug addiction in utterly harrowing terms... and in 2016, Danny Brown followed in that tradition with Atrocity Exhibition. His previous two projects may have reinforced the garish juxtaposition between how much escapist fun drugs could be opposite the grimy, poverty-stricken life he was trying to escape, but Atrocity Exhibition went further, embracing a howling nightmare of experimental production and wild delivery that was looking to drag you into the roots of how horrifying addiction and the underlying depression could be. It's not an album I precisely love - tonally it's all over the place and not all the experimentation in production sticks the landing - but there hasn't really been anything like it in the 2010s in hip-hop, and it absolutely set a new high water mark for Danny Brown as a rapper and artist - I'd never really been a huge fan before, but Atrocity Exhibition definitely brought me on-board in a big way.

Flash forward to 2019, and Danny Brown seems to be in a very different place: he's older, a little more restrained and cleaned-up, he's got a pretty good show on VICELAND that might have its weird moments but isn't really embracing the shock in the same way his albums have. And thus I didn't really expect him to go further down the rabbit hole for his new project uknowhatimsayin¿ - sure, names like JPEGMAFIA and Run The Jewels and Thundercat and Blood Orange attached to production did suggest this was going to be weird, but likely a more controlled, focused brand of weird. Still, I was fascinated to see where Danny Brown would land, and it was hard to not be excited about that set of collaborators, so what did we get with uknowhatimsayin¿?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

video review: 'atrocity exhibition' by danny brown

I'll admit I don't love this record as much as I want to - sort of like Death Grips in that regard - but this was one hell of a listen regardless and definitely worth everyone's time.

On the other hand... well, I've got Billboard BREAKDOWN first, then Bon Iver - stay tuned!

Monday, October 3, 2016

album review: 'atrocity exhibition' by danny brown

So here's something you probably know: as a rapper and artist, I tend to like Danny Brown. 

But if I'm being brutally honest, there's a part of me that likes the idea of Danny Brown and writing about him almost more than his music itself, mostly because he's the sort of fascinating artist you don't see very often anymore. His critically acclaimed breakthrough XXX held a fascinating split: a rapper who could descend into depravity that was borderline cartoonish, but who could also step back into more vividly detailed and conscious content, the sort of material that didn't just show a more thoughtful MC but aos provided the context to why he cut loose the way he did. That wildness was explored even more thoughtfully on his 2013 follow-up Old, which I did review, but outside of some harrowing darkness the dramatic contrast felt a little skewed, and I ultimately didn't find the record as enjoyable as I was hoping. 

From there, though, Danny Brown seemed to drift from project to project in a way that either implied he was just screwing around or that something had gotten knocked loose in his brain. Aside from saying he was writing a children's book inspired by Dr. Seuss - which if this exists I need to find - he also would show up for guest verses in all sorts of odd places, from the 'Detroit vs. Everybody' compilation which had him working with Eminem and Big Sean to working with Freddie Gibbs and Madlib on a song off of Pinata to collaborating with Aesop Rock and Busdriver. Overall, we haven't seen a lot of Danny Brown over the past few years, to the point where he showed up twice on the new Avalanches album Wildflower - including its best song opposite MF Doom 'Frankie Sinatra' - it was a legit surprise. And I'll admit it was a real surprise to hear he was dropping a record called Atrocity Exhibition on a new label with a posse cut that included Kendrick, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt - because of course it did. Much more interesting was that the executive producer was Paul White, who you might recognize from earlier this year on the collaboration project with Open Mike Eagle on Hella Personal Film Festival, which remains my favourite hip-hop project of this year. But Danny Brown seemed to be working with a lot of people and styles I liked, and considering this record was reportedly his most wild and eclectic to date, I had to hear it... so what did we get?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

video review: 'old' by danny brown

Man, I'm happy I got a chance to get this out. Think it's one of my better ones (despite the terrible screencap).

Next will be Pusha T and probably that'll be it until Sunday (going to visit extended family for Canadian Thanksgiving), where I'll probably cover Joe Nichols. Think I'm going to skip on Of Montreal, though - I just don't have the time to get through their discography right now to deliver a review with the right context.

Stay tuned!

album review: 'old' by danny brown

Let's talk about artistic dichotomies.

This is a bit of an odd topic, but it's one that does require an examination, particularly considering its rise within music, particularly hip-hop and rap. The principle is simple: holding two exclusive thoughts in your music simultaneously. Or, in simpler terms, the whole concept of the 'thug lover' or the 'gangsta with a sensitive side'. It doesn't really seem to make sense when you start thinking about it, but I'm not surprised at all why so many rappers try it out, because you're nailing two very different markets.

The issue becomes whether or not that separation of exclusive ideas can actually be believable, which is the biggest problem I find with most of these acts. For instance, Ja Rule very much wanted to emulate 2Pac, but he also appeared on duets with female singers and tried to come across as a sensitive dude, and it completely backfired on him because the image didn't hold up under deeper scrutiny. For a more recent example, take a look at Drake - it's clear he's much more comfortable in the sensitive R&B vein, but he still plays the thug and it's rarely believable. It requires an extremely talented artist who can hold multiple personas successfully, and it takes an even better one to make them come across as remotely cohesive on the same album.

Enter Danny Brown, a rapper from the underground who made major waves in 2011 with XXX, a album where Danny Brown pushed that dichotomy between thug and conscientious rapper to the absolute limit, splitting his album into two segments: the sleazy, often grossly explicit thug; and the more street-wise, down-to-earth rapper who was able to provide context for such behaviour. It helped matters that Danny Brown seems smarter than the average girl/riches/car-obsessed rapper, and his meta-commentary strewn throughout both sides of the album did wonders for bringing it all together. Plus, from an instrumentation/production/technical rapping standpoint, the majority of the album was damn near flawless. Going into XXX, I was expecting just another mixtape, and I left with my mind blown because this guy was legit, both as an extremely convincing gangsta presence and as a rapper who could intelligently speak to the grimier, more depressing lifestyles that cultivated that gangsta image. 

So with that in mind, I was intrigued by the fact that Danny Brown's newest album Old would be exploring that dichotomy yet again, but I was also a bit worried - the album was clearly being marketed as 'bigger' and more aimed at the mainstream hip-hop community, and with more writers on board every track, I was worried that some of the more incisive commentary or risky subject matter would get sanded down. Was I right?