Detroit rapper Danny Brown isn’t afraid to go against the grain. His snappy, nasally one-liners and wacky rhythmic flow combine for a unique sound that continues to mature alongside the musical landscape he has constructed. With the release of his fifth studio album, “uknowwhatimsayin¿”, on Oct. 4, Brown has further solidified his authentic persona in the alternative hip-hop universe.
The rapper’s previous albums, “Old” and “Atrocity Exhibitions”, touch on the darker parts of Brown’s struggles with drug addiction and self-doubt. Brown’s newest release takes a detour.
In “uknowwhatimsayin¿”, Brown is confident and unapologetic. The 38-year-old rapper reflects on the side effects of popularity and riches. While Brown was caught up in the thick of life in his previous works, “uknowwhatimsayin¿” presents a carefree, thoughtful version of himself coming to terms with the world around him.
On the track “Best Life,” Brown fires off bars on a beat that provides a more soulful instrumental than the typical hard, machine-like loops of his former albums. Brown contemplates his past troubles with a newfound mindset when he raps, “’Cause ain’t no next life, so now I’m tryna live my best life.” This self-assured attitude carries throughout the album.
The rapper’s originality has always been constant, but his previous works may fit only a small niche of listeners. His pairing of comedic entendres with experimental mechanical pitched instrumentals has gathered a loyal fan-base. “Uknowwhatimsayin¿” breaks from this niche by appealing to a larger audience with a composition that allows for a likely compromise between Brown’s music and the general public.
The 11-track release is compact in terms of overall resonance. Many of the tracks contain habitual hip-hop elements, with pulsating kicks and claps along with catchy guitar loops and atmospheric ad-libs. These catchy components allow for Brown to appeal to his faithful devotees while enticing new listeners.
While Brown typically is a one-man show, “uknowwhatimsayin¿” unveils the rapper’s collaborative side. It features the esteemed hip-hop duo Run The Jewels, intense emo industrial rapper JPEGMAFIA, funky electronic indie rock artist Blood Orange and Nigerian afrobeat rapper and singer Obongjayar.
These cooperative efforts lead to an album full of contrary takes. Famous rapper and producer Q-Tip assisted in executive production throughout “uknowwhatimsayin¿”. Q-Tip’s expertise as a musician plays an immense role in the creation of Brown’s album, resulting in the blanketed interpretation of the work as a whole.
“Uknowwhatimsayin¿” is a milestone for Brown. His fifth studio album represents the most refined version of the Detroit native to date. No longer set astray by his hectic past, Brown has grown as an artist while remaining sincere to his character.
Brown is coming to the Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver on Nov. 4. Tickets are available here.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Benny Titelbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org