Danny Brown’s music should have a large yellow and red sign in front of it that reads “WARNING” or “CAUTION.” His lyrics, style and image aren’t made for the popular masses; he’s the estranged version of hip-hop, its beautiful dark side. Brown appropriately named his newest album Atrocity Exhibition, a showcase of the wicked and demented mentality in which Brown resides. Named after the opening track on Joy Division’s Closer, Brown draws from the song’s unconventional sound and bleak tone.
Danny Brown had a rough upbringing in Detroit, MI; he was a drug dealer at 18, jailed in his mid-twenties, and after he got out of prison, he returned to a world that isn’t forgiving to young black men with a criminal records. Sadly, this may not be unique experience for a lot of people growing up in the bad part of the inner city, but Danny Brown is a unique individual who used these experiences along with an out-of-this-world personality to create a rhyming scheme and lyrical content that has become his signature style — best explained as a lyrical assault coupled with an ear-piercing, high-pitched yell.
Brown will occasionally come in offbeat, like on his album opener “Downward Spiral,” to force the listener to be a part of the insanity he’s expressing on the song. The tone he sets navigates the audience through Atrocity Exhibition as Danny Brown raps like a madman airing out his ideas and perception of life. A prime example of this is on the track “Golddust,” where Danny Brown raps over an aggressive guitar riff that’s sampled in a psychotic loop as he spit bars like: “Mimosa for breakfast / With a thick hoe from Texas / Got good karma / Feel the persona / Got the Hermes towel while I'm up in the sauna / Smoking on ganja / Tasting like caramel / Ass so fat think she get it from her momma.”
Atrocity Exhibition really stands out in the production quality that allows Danny Brown and his friends to boast and spaz on. Listen to the drums on lead single “Really Doe,” where Danny Brown, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt trade bars on a sinister, old-fashioned hip-hop beat. Another standout track is the Evian Christ produced “Pneumonia” — the beat has an ominous piano playing while you hear the syncopated clash of symbols drive the beat to a bridge, where an onslaught of drums collide. Danny Brown did an excellent job choosing sounds to complement his one-of-a-kind delivery.
On Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown is an example of how hip-hop artists are operating as today’s rock stars: drug-filled, sex-charged, anti-establishment themes with an over-the-top personality that has ultimate stage presence. If you’re looking for quality hip-hop that is a loud opposition to mainstream rap, look no further than this album.
by Bryce Browning
Song You Need To Hear: "Really Doe"