The way Danny Brown raps isn't identical to the way Danny Brown talks, but in conversation with the Michigan MC, a few similarities pop up: the wheezy hyena chuckles, the dry sense of humor, the easy confidence, the sense that he can murder this interview shit day or night, awake or asleep, braided or permed. Rapping, Brown works in two modes: a parody of a steroid-case bruiser spitting through and a strained, crazed yelp that's half Eminem, half Ol' Dirty Bastard, with the former's ear for intricately structured rhymes and the latter's willingness to play the ham.
A decade into Brown's rocky rap career, the mean streets of Detroit are his inspiration; poverty, depravity, and how one fuels the other are as much his grand themes as exhibitionist cunnilingus or dreaming up funny nicknames for strains of marijuana. And if 2010's The Hybrid, his first high-profile solo mix tape, established Brown's urban dioramaabject gross-outs, debauched slice-of-life vignettes, thinly veiled PSAs, a brief history of his family's history with illegal substanceslast year's XXX (Fool's Gold) exploded it to feature-film dimensions with the no-holds barred hedonism of its first half giving way to a series of heart-scarring sequels and prequels: straw-woman party girls like the ones Brown's been mounting emerging as broken souls, hard-knock childhood tales, gangs of metal-stripping marauders. XXX (which clocked in at No. 28 on the most recent Pazz & Jop poll) takes root and wraps its branches around the listener, the encyclopedic spiral of referents jibing with the devilishly psychedelic array of daring, wide-earred beats, the apparently endless, compressed strings of marvelous couplets. Brown has more winners in two songs than most rappers manage in an entire album. If you've only familiar with the 31-year old's breast-beating, scene-stealing spots on Das Racist, Mister Muthafuckin' eXquire, or Mach Five tracks, you haven't heard the full Danny Brown.
Earlier this month, Brown filled SOTC in on his writing process, his love for Joy Division, and what it means to take "blunts to the face."More »