I truly believe Danny Brown is the most interesting character in hip hop right now. The way he mixes tales of selling drugs, drug use, depression and addiction with his unique style and EDM influenced beat selection is amazing to me. His previous album Old demonstrated this contrast perfectly, with Side A being focused on his gritty past and Side B being full of party bangers. So coming into this album, I really didn’t know what to expect but I knew it would be captivating.
This album is insane. Like it or not, the one thing you cannot call this album is boring. it’s an absolute high octane riot and for me, demonstrates an artist really breaking the conventions of his genre to be himself. Danny Brown hasn’t looked like your average rapper since i first saw him on Ab-Soul’s “Terrorist Threats” (I know, I was mad late to the party). With his eccentric style of dress and even his straightened hair with one side shaved, he looked more like a rock artist than a rapper but he maintains with a lyrical dexterity that puts him up there with the best rappers out there at the moment.
His very best comes on “Really Doe’. This song blew my damn mind, with lyrical juggernauts like Ab-Soul and Kendrick Lamar. Plus, a exemplary verse from Earl Sweatshirt who changed his delivery and lack perfectly matched the tone of the track. ‘I’m at your house like why you got your couch on my chucks’ might be my favourite line on this whole album (and considering how many quotables Danny Brown has, this is a huge compliment). This track is flames. I need more music from every featured artist on this, especially Ab-Soul as These Days… feels an age away now.
The beat on “White Lines” almost sounds psychedelic, with a riff that sounds like a relic from the 70’s groovy style of music. It works, and Danny’s lyrics of drug use does well to both detail the high and low of this simultaneously. His flow throughout seems to almost match every beat of the riff, so it compliments the sound for the duration for the track. While you probably won’t find yourself singing along to any part of the verses, the chorus has a simplistic concept that benefits from some repetition. It almost has the rhythm of a nursery rhyme, or something Dr. Seuss would craft….If he was black…and from Detroit…and dealt and used drugs…So maybe not like Dr Seuss but I digress. This song comes deep in the track-list and on every listen through, I’m still hooked in the vibe of the record.
Another highlight on the album are the two lead singles, “Pneumonia” and “When It Rains”. The latter definitely is in my Top 5 Danny Brown songs. It’s frantic, it’s gritty and by the chorus the energy and relentless nature of Danny’s flow mixed with the beat feels like an ecstasy-fuelled mosh pit. I’ve never been to Detroit, but from what I can muster about the Motor City, this track is an amazing blend of its harsh realities and vast musical culture (definitely repped Detroit, “Call Uncle Trick when you hit my home, beef with him don’t hit my phone”) This track especially makes me yearn to hear him over grime beats in a similar fashion to his earlier “Blueberry and Cocaine” track, as he fits into that rhyming pocket so effortlessly. “Pneumonia” also has this feel, though the beat is much more simplistic and the chorus feels a bit more flat compared to the off kilter drums during the verses. ScHoolboy Q’s ad-lib s throughout also add to the track and confirms to me that sometimes a guest verse is not always what’s needed for a song. The ad-libs alone were enough here.
This album is crazy, and although their sounds are totally different, I can kind of see why people compare him to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Despite how much I loved this album, chances are if you haven’t liked any Danny Brown up until this point, you won’t like this. And if you have loved his sound since XXX you’ll probably enjoy this too.
Verdict on Danny Brown – Flow is erratic and amazing, Lyrically he’s a beast and isn’t afraid to take risks with his sound. What’s not to like.