Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Detroit's Danny Brown

"Outer Space"

I decided it's time to do another music blog. Sometimes I feel like doing nothing but music blogs, but I wanna keep the content of this blog diversified. Just know that I could do about 2 of these a day.

Anyways, today's class will be focusing on Danny Brown, an African American rapper hailing from Detroit, Michigan. These last two years have been huge for this guy, dropping the album The Hybrid in 2010 and XXX in 2011, as well as an EP in 2011 with Detroit producer Black Milk, titled Black and Brown (not the most clever title). I heard about Brown after Black and Brown came out, but I didn't actually listen to him for a while after. I'm still very hesitant to give new artists (especially rappers) a chance. Most of it is garbage, and I have enough music on my ipod to keep me happy for the rest of my life. I always want to hear new stuff, but I usually try to find older, more rare songs. I have a habit of picking up on artists years after they actually come out. I finally gave Brown a shot because Blockhead recommended his music. I finally downloaded Black and Brown and XXX, for free, because he's the man and gave them away. 

To be perfectly honest, I was not impressed. In most of the songs he took on an obnoxious, nasally, high-pitched yelp. I had been a fan of Black Milk for a little while so at least the beats on Black and Brown were good right off the bat, but I wasn't sold on this guy being the hot new thing that all the hipsters (and actual hip people) claimed him to be. The beats on XXX were very unconventional, so that album was even more of a stretch for me. I liked both albums, and they were definitely interesting, I just didn't think they would be something I'd listen to very much.

After a couple more listens, something strange happened. I didn't want to listen to anything else. I was addicted to that obnoxious yelp and the asinine, brilliant, irreverent, perverted, and hilarious words it was spouting.

I quickly downloaded The Hybrid and anything else I could find from him (XXX is my favorite overall). You have to love a guy who references the Simpsons ("You softer than Flander's son/Don't make me put hands on son"), the Fresh Prince of Bel Air ("But the block was off the hook, said fuck class/Off them same pills that had Carlton dancing fast"), guns and SpongeBob ("AKs with bayonets on deck, rep my set/Sorta like Squidward and his clarinet"), and one of my favorite mc's, Masta Ace ("Dog I'm strategizin, plottin on throne/Masta of the ace, sittin on chrome!"). He's also VERY fond of talking about sex, especially oral sex. Apparently, the loss of his two front teeth has made him a cunnilingus connoisseur of sorts (I'm surprised he hasn't used that line).

"I Will" As in, that sexual act your husband/boyfriend won't do, Danny Brown will.

He's unlike anything I've ever heard. He's gotten the comparisons to Ol' Dirty Bastard, but that's not fair to him or Osirus. He has the irreverence of ODB, that's for sure. He's got the pervertedness of 2 Live Crew and Black Sheep (and ODB). But he also has the insight of Brother Ali or Common, and the wordplay of Andre 3000. In one of my favorite songs, he talks about coming to grips with turning 30 (something I can certainly relate to). He expresses his fears and concerns about ever reaching his goals ("Cause if this shit don't work, ni**a I failed at life") and talks openly about how his drug dependency has paradoxically helped him deal with his struggles and made him suicidal ("Turning to these drugs now these drugs turned my life/And it's the downward spiral, got me suicidal/But too scared to do it so these pills will be the rifle).

"XXX" Which is the Roman Numeral for 30...took me a while to figure that one out. 

His rapping style varies, so he's not all high pitched barking, he often reverts to a simple, straight forward style, and he's still more original than the majority of rappers. In one song he talks about growing up in the wasteland of Detroit ("And where I lived... it was house, field, field/Field, field, house/Abandoned house, field, field") and in another, he talks about how grateful his family was for welfare and food stamps.

"Thank God" The best argument for welfare ever made. Seriously.

In addition to all of this, he is one of the weirdest looking mofos you'll ever see, but he absolutely pulls it off. The word is, he was going to be signed to G-Unit, but 50 Cent wasn't fond of his look, in particular the skinny jeans and wacky hair.

How can you not love this look, 50?

In all honesty, it turned me off to him at first, too. As open as I am to music (I don't listen to only rap, as some people--and my nickname--would have you believe) there are still prejudices I harbor that prevent me from listening to some good music; and as much as I despise the media's, and society's, opinions on music and movies/shows, I still let them influence my opinion on things. For example, I didn't listen to Amy Winehouse while she was alive because I really only heard the song Rehab (which was a clear radio friendly hit) and I dismissed her as an over-hyped, over-privileged druggie, because that had become her image. I liked her on Ghostface's song, but I attributed that to the beat, and to Ghostface. But after her death, Questlove of The Roots said something about her being a genius and working with her on an album. So I (definitely not illegally) downloaded her album. If you've been paying attention, you'll know that I ended up loving it.

Now I've gotten a whole bunch of music to enjoy from Danny Brown, and I relearned a valuable lesson from him: don't judge an artist by his or her look, and don't pay any attention whatsoever to critics (or the majority of people in general). Nowadays, to find good music, you have to actively search for it, and you can't let something like skinny jeans, or a stupid name, or being over-hyped, or being really over-hyped, or being a white rock band, get in the way of listening to some new, good music.

"Huzzah Remix" This song features a bunch of artists you should be listening to.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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