Danny Brown, in my opinion, is one of Hip-Hop’s best artist of the last 5 years. If you disagree, just message me and we can figure out a way to physically debate this.
His sound isn’t for everyone. He’s more of an acquired taste, which mostly has to do with his wild high pitched vocal delivery. He reminds me of a modern day ODB, just a bit more looney and drugged out. Still, none of that effects the quality of his music for me.
I loved XXX and I liked Old. Didn’t love it, but it does hold a handful of some of my favorite tracks from Danny Brown, such as the title track “Old” and “The Return” featuring Freddie Gibbs, as well as the much more introspective tracks such as “Lonely” and “Float On”. There’s a few others in that album I enjoyed greatly, but overall it didn’t grab me like XXX did. Still, that didn’t make me turn a side eye away from Danny or have me losing faith in him as an artist. He was pleasing a crowd that I wasn’t necessarily in.
Now, it’s been 3 years since Danny has released an album and he’s been noticeably quiet. But here we are now, we have the album in its full glory for our listening pleasure and this is my exciting opportunity to see what Danny Brown has been cooking up in his absence. Here we go, let’s get it.
1. Downward Spiral Produced by Paul White The production on this track sounds more like something I’d hear on an acid rock or psychedelic rock album. But the terms “psychedelic” and “acid” don’t stretch too far from what I would relate Danny’s music too.
That aside, I’m loving this. Took a couple listens, but the simplicity of this track combined with Danny’s odd rapping style just starts this album off in such an odd place that I can’t help being enamored with it. I especially love the guitars that come in during the hook.
Topic wise, this track is about Danny’s struggles with depression beneath all the success he’s making. A bit of a self reflection.
The downward spiral, which to my knowledge is like an infinite loop of depression, is something Danny has actually mentioned before on his famed album XXX.
And it’s the downward spiral, got me suicidal.
This is definitely picking up where XXX left off, and so far I’m loving it.
2. Tell Me What I Don’t Know Produced by Paul White On this track, Danny is using his more laid back delivery to paint this portrait of his former life. There’s drugs, there’s death, and there’s, once again, the downward spiral.
On the hook he repeats the statement “Tell me what I don’t know” which pretty much reads as “I’ve seen it all” to me.
I really dig the production on this track. Paul White compliments Danny very well. If you’re not into Paul White you should definitely check out his collab album he did with Open Mile Eagle titled Hella Personal Film Festival earlier this year. Definitely standout album for 2016.
I’m really enjoying this track. It serves it’s full purpose in the grand scheme of this album by giving us a more calmed introspective look into Danny’s head.
3. Rolling Stone Featured & Produced by Petite Noir That bass line is killer. Petite Noir seems like an oddly perfect artist for Danny Brown to collaborate with.
While I do enjoy the track a lot, it’s certainly not one of my favorites on the tracklist. It’s one of those songs that I would have to be in the mood to listen to.
Nonetheless, the track fits into the album well and doesn’t slow the pace down so… no complaints really. Danny and Petite both did a good job.
4. Really Doe Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, & Earl Sweatshirt; Produced by Black Milk Blessed by the hands of Detroit’s Black Milk, we have a track featuring the four horsemen of rap in 2016.
(To my knowledge, this is actually the first time we’ve had Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt on the same track together.)
This track is amazing. What more can I say? Of course Danny Brown kills it over a Black Milk beat. You can’t expect anything less than great when those two come together.
Ab-Soul follows after Danny so perfectly with such dark energy and just eats it, giving you more reason to believe that he just might be TDE’s best lyricist.
Following after, to challenge my last statement, Kendrick Lamar comes in after handling the hook to drop a verse, that to me almost seems more like a freestyle, but nonetheless GREAT.
Lastly, we have the highlight of it all. Earl Sweatshirt.
Earl outshines them all to me. The aggression he delivered was something I’ve never heard from Earl before.
I wake up early on ’em, gettin’ out the house is a must It’s like a sweaty pit, sweaty sit, countin’ your dubs Either that or you gon’ catch me on a mountain with monks Loungin’, ask your girl why her mouth on my nuts You’ve been the same motherfucker since 2001 Well it’s the left-handed shooter, Kyle Lowry the pump I’m at your house like, “why you got your couch on my Chucks” Motherfucker
Love it. Definitely one of my favorites in the tracklisting.
5. Lost Produced by Playa Haze Danny goes straight IN on this track. Here, we get references of Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, and Asa Akira. Dream team, right?
I’m like Kubrick with two bricks and hoes on the strip Off a two piece A toothpick I flick and I preach
I’m like Spielberg with ill words and hoes on the curb
Danny Brown is easily the looniest rapper to ever touch a mic. Love this track. Production is on point and Danny’s sporadic flow is sick. Definitely getting a lot of replays from me. Those horns were badass too.
6. Ain’t It Funny Produced by Paul White What rapper simply chooses to rap over something like this? This track is pure insanity. I honestly can’t wrap my head around it, but I know I love it. This is something that’s definitely not gonna be loved by every ear it hits, but maybe that just adds more to the insanity and beauty of it for me.
7. Golddust Produced by Paul White Here, we have the track that samples Joy Division’s song “Atrocity Exhibition”, from which this album got its title from.
I love the production here, especially the guitar work in between the verses. Danny is here fueling out his tales of intoxication, mostly with cocaine it seems, and it’s not too pretty.
Hid behind designer shades Life of sin Lost control Don’t have a soul Myself I don’t know no more Numbing up with drugs to suppress these feelings Praying to the heavens Letting these devils get the best of me Nigga what the recipe for a good time A whole lot of liquor while you’re doing coke lines
Yeah, that’s a really dark tunnel there.
Overall, I’m liking this track a lot. The lyrics are very grim and Danny does a damn good job delivering them, but I think the production is what grabs me the most here.
8. White Lines Produced by The Alchemist Think you could guess what this track is about?
Uncle Al lends a hand in production here to assist Danny in wild narration of his drug tendencies. Not a topic that Danny is a stranger to and production wise this sounds like something I could imagine Danny on. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just a majority of the tracks prior to this were a lot more experimental even for Danny. That being said, I’m way more interested with the lyrics on this track. On the hook it sounds almost like a cry for help, while the verses are just him wilding out.
Definitely something that deserves a few more listens still, but no issues with it really. Fits well with the package.
9. Pneumonia Produced by Evian Christ
Old nigga came in this bitch with a new gun!
The production here is so dark and menacing. I love this. Evian Christ really killed it here.
ScHoolboy Q lends ad-libs in the background as Danny kills it on one of his best tracks to date. Though a verse from ScHoolboy would’ve been dope, I don’t mind him just giving backing vocals. It truthfully still adds a lot and hypes the track up a great deal. Loving it.
10. Dance In The Water Produced by Paul White As soon as the track started and I heard that Pulsllamma sample… I knew this shit was going to be insane. And it was.
This shit is crazy. This shit is nasty. Once again, I don’t know any other rapper off the top of my head who could actually spit on something like this and make it work so well as Danny does.
I love the way he flips the whole “play with fire and not get burned” idiom into “dance in the water and not get wet”.
This track and album itself is transcending the boundaries of Hip-Hop right now and I’m here for it all the way. Definitely a highlight for me.
11. From The Ground Featuring Kelela; Produced by Paul White Here, Danny uses his more laid back delivery to rap about his come up from writing his rhymes on brown paper bags to making it out the storm.
This is probably the most accessible song on the entire LP. I love Kelela’s vocals on this track. Feels like a rest stop from all the madness that’s been going on here. Digging it.
12. When It Rain Produced by Paul White The first single from the album and one of Danny’s best tracks in my opinion. The production is just so odd and dark and the way he flows over it with such ease just shows so much of his prowess as rapper.
When it rains, when it pours get your ass on the floor now
You can’t tell me Danny wasn’t spitting on this. This easily one of his best singles and all around tracks in general.
Turn on the percolator Murder music orchestrator Point blank hollow tip circulator Your ass lucky if you on respirator I’m like Vega rolling with that blade Kid don’t play, wanna catch that fade? Shoot the house party up with them K Shut down when we hear the DJ
Of course it’s a highlight
13. Today Produced by Paul White He reeeeeeally sounds like 3 Stacks a bit on this track here.
Topic wise, I get a feeling there’s a lot of paranoia on this track, and for good reason. Danny speaks on how each day isn’t certain and how everyone around you isn’t your friend. You never know when it might be your time to die. Cheat death everyday.
Definitely something that deserves a few more listens still, but no issues with it really. Fits well with the package. Also, after researching I’m noticing that A LOT of these tracks connect to one another with these specific lines that reference each other in theme.
“You never know, one day you’re here, the next you’re gone” – “Downward Spiral”, Danny Brown
“Living on borrowed time/Can’t think about tomorrow ‘cause it’s about today” – “From The Ground”, Danny Brown
Not really a surprise that these tracks connect to each other, but it’s just interesting how subtle and smooth it’s all crafted together.
14. Get Hi Featuring B-Real; Produced by Paul White The most lowkey track on this entire album. Another spot that feels like a rest stop. This is the “weed smoking song” of the album.
It basically reads as “Having a stressful day? Smoke some weed and get high!” The issue here, which plays into the downward spiral, is that then”high” is only temporary and once it’s gone you’re back to the lows.
Lending support here, we have B-Real of Cypress Hill which is an obvious influence of Danny Brown’s and it’s nice to see them on a track together. It almost seems like B-Real is trying to do his best impersonation of Danny Brown too honestly.
The track is fairly simple and the production here isn’t as complex and experimental as the rest of the album, but I can’t help loving this track. Definitely a favorite of mine. Something I could chill and listen to early in the morning
15. Hell For It Produced by Paul White Final track here and it’s the light at the end of that dark tunnel. Everything comes together here and Danny speaks that he’s not gonna go out without a fight. Despite everything he faces from drug addiction to serious depression, he’s not calling a quits. If these demons want to take his life, then he’s gonna give them hell for it.
I think this is the perfect closer for this album. It ties up everything well, and gives Danny the pillar to speak down upon all the negatives that are coming against him. He gets to speak down upon and into the downward spiral.
I love it. Very simple in production and not overly drawn out. It’s very fitting.
Overall, this was a very crazy ride. Easily, this is probably the craziest Hip-Hop album I’ll hear all year.
The production throughout is stellar incorporates many sounds beyond hip hop, most notably sounds from the rock genre, with maybe a little hints of funk.
Lyrically, Danny delivers grim, dark, and very personally lyrics throughout accompanied with his looney and schizophrenic flow. It almost feels like I’m listening to audio from a diary I shouldn’t be reading, or rather a cry for help on some tracks.
Overall as a full collection, I think this might be Danny Browns best project. Aside from a few minor nitpicks, I really don’t have any issues with this album. Some tracks are still growing on me, or going over my head, but where things sit now… I’m loving it.