Mel D. Cole


danny brown is all grown up but no less fun

August 28, 2019

It was almost eight years ago to the day of his AFROPUNK Brooklyn performance that Danny Brown dropped XXX, the album that took him from a respected yet underground Detroit rapper to a worldwide festival act. On XXX he mixed stories of living in systematic disenfranchisement (see: “Fields”) with how many people deal with it; indulging in copious amounts of the most readily available mind-altering substances (see: “Blunt After Blunt”). To no surprise, it was the latter that resonated most with mainstream audiences.

He has since leaned into money-making EDM-inflected tracks while at the same time pulling off more experimental rap fare (his last record, Atrocity Exhibition, took its name from post-punk pioneers Joy Division). He’s a brilliant rapper but that sometimes that gets obscured by the fact he’s also a great party performer; the signature high-pitched yelp of his MC voice has soundtracked many calls for shots in a college dorm rooms over the years.

But at this stage in his career, Brown has nothing to prove. So it was fitting for him to come out to the first track from the record that started it all, “Die Like A Rock Star.” In fact, he drew pretty heavily from that record during his set — a nod to the many hardcore fans in the audience rapping along. But as expected it was EDM tracks like “Dip” that got the crowd the most riled up. And there’s nothing wrong with that; what is AFROPUNK if not a celebration?

At this point in his career, Brown has played hundreds if not thousands of shows and is a well-seasoned performer. His secret weapon is his childlike abandon when he is on stage, a mischievous gleam in his eye that makes you realize that no matter what he’s rapping about, from surviving drug abuse to doing as many drugs as possible, he is having as much fun on stage as you are watching him. It was a celebration from he came from, to where he was going (he recently made his debut as TV show host with Viceland’s “Danny’s House“), and Danny Brown wanted you to know it.