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danny brown brings ‘atrocity exhibition’ to brooklyn

June 10, 2019

“Langston Hughes with a blew fuse and screw loose” That’s how Detroit’s Danny Brown describes himself on “Pac Blood” from his 2012 breakthrough project, XXX, and I can’t think of a more accurate description. Though the words “Detroit rap” tend to conjure up names like Eminem, J Dilla, Big Sean and Sada Baby, in the typical rap fan’s mind, there’s an argument to be made for Danny Brown as the Motor City’s poet laureate.

Brown is to Detroit as Nas is to Queensbridge, both a narrator of and a character in the story about surviving a blighted city. Songs like “Scrap Or Die” and “Guitar Solo” (from 2011’s The Hybrid) are unflinching depictions of what life is really like for Detroit’s Black underclass. But Brown’s music is less melodrama and more dramedy; he’s also the rapping version of Richard Pryor — with lyrics as comical as they are confessional. Brown puts his own struggles with depression and substance abuse (see: “White Lines” from 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition) right next to humorous boasts about his rapping prowess and sexual proclivities (see: his ode to cunnilingus “I Will”).

As you’ll see this August at AFROPUNK Brooklyn, he’s also a master of spectacle. With support from his DJ and producer Skywlkr, he applies a punk rock approach to his shows, raising the crowd’s energy to a fever-pitch, alternating between straight spitting in a rock star stance and bouncing around the stage like an over-caffeinated Tigger when performing songs like “Dip.” Though he’s pivoted to designer normcore as of late, Brown’s signature nasal squawk, plus typically garish outfits and hairstyles are just the colorful wrapping on this avant-garde hip-hop total package.

Come see Danny Brown at AFROPUNK Brooklyn, this August.