Album Review: Danny Brown, “OLD”

Written By Matt Agosta

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Danny Brown is by no means your typical MC … but usually typical is boring anyway.

Rappers that come out today try fit into whatever niche is popular at the time. The artists that do bring something original to the scene are few and far between.

From the first looks of Danny Brown, a native Detroit rapper is the last thing that comes to mind especially because of his crazy emo hair, huge gape teeth, and of course his skinny jeans. But Danny is indeed one of hip-hop’s promising up and comers.

Most people know him for his loud high-pitched voice, his verse on A$AP Rocky’s “1 Train”, and his 2011 critically acclaimed mixtape XXX. In a short time he’s built a pretty damn good resume for himself. Now, Danny is finally ready to unleash his debut album Old. Although the title of the album may suggest it, nothing sounds old about this album and it is absolutely what the new hip-hop needs.

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Just like Brown’s previous project, the album is split into two parts with Side A being labeled “Old” and Side B being “Dope.” The first half of the album is the grungier side of things where he tells his stories and experiences of his previous lifestyle living in Detroit (not fun as you could image). Side B is the Danny Brown the causal rap fan would most likely know, full of many drug-themed tracks that are ready to get any party going. Each of these perspectives sounds like it could be difficult to mesh them into one project, but the more you listen to the album the more it makes sense. Each half represents parts of Danny’s life and he creatively breaks down how these lifestyles made him who he is today, and what demons he possesses because of it.

Danny Brown is today’s hip-hop’s hipster with the wacky hair and all but he wasn’t always that way. Side A shows everyone that Danny was once that “typical” Detroit rapper. Songs like “The Return” featuring Freddie Gibbs, “Torture,” “25 Bucks” and many more explore the horrors that Danny and the people in his position had to face everyday. Most of the tracks on Side A don’t make use of his famous high-pitched voice, but instead he gives us that “old Danny Brown” with a tone that is much darker and honest. Personally, I did not realize that Brown lived this life and that he had the potential to give us really hard gangster hip-hop music — which has been absent from hip-hop for a while now. Brown uses that gangster theme and mixes it with modern hip-hop production, but not the typical trap beats that have been over flowing the Internet. The production blends quite well with Brown’s unique style and the fact that each side of the album is so different tonally, it really helps show Brown’s range as a MC.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Side B (Dope)” in which Brown proclaims that the song is his last dope song. It’s accompanied with epic production that is dangerous to listen to in the car (you’re going to want to drive way above the speed limit). The album continues with what many people would say is what Brown does best — hard-hitting party tracks revolving around women, hard drugs, and more hard drugs. I may seem like I’m putting Danny Brown in a drug music box, but honestly he does it way better than most rappers out there. I don’t mind the continued use of this theme because of what he did on the first half of the album, and because he’s being very honest with his audience. Listeners may get a little bored of hearing track after track with super hard bass and talk of Molly but it would have sounded much weirder if he tried to blend each side of the album together. There are some throwaways on Side B but also many standouts like “Smokin & Drinkin,” “Dip,” and the single “Kush Coma” which features Harlem’s A$AP Rocky.

If you don’t listen hard enough to the album you might miss why Danny Brown sets up his first album in this way, but when you get to the last track “Float On” it all makes sense. This is the track in which Brown brings each side of the to the album full circle and connects them together — showing the listener exactly why he is the person he is today.

Overall, Danny Brown gave his fans and hip-hop and really fun and insightful album, and most importantly, something very fresh to the genre.

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