★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Something is happening with rap’s favourite eccentric Danny Brown. His signature screwball flourish of hair is now a no-frills buzz cut, his trademark broken teeth are now pearly whites and he even has his own TV chat show on Viceland.uknowwhatimsayin¿ follows 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition, a dense project that broke the fourth wall by questioning Brown’s fandom on the entertainment value of his street induced PTSD and subsequent drug-abuse. This new album marks a transformation of sorts, it feels simpler but stronger. Rapper Q-Tip may have a part to play in this, who, as executive producer, curated the ornate, decisive sound of this album with help from the likes of JPEGMAFIA and Flying Lotus.
This instrumental precision doesn’t constrain the rapper, it only makes each line more measured. Brown’s non-linear narrative melds gleeful singing with hard-hitting punchlines, humorous quips with exuberant storytelling. Tracks like ‘Change Up’ and ‘Combat’ are deep cuts, while ‘Negro Spiritual’ and ‘Belly of the Beast’ showcase Brown’s classic manic intensity, reminiscent of 2011’s XXX which first made rap-heads perk up and notice this enigmatic underdog.
This 11-track album feels like Danny Brown at his best. With no filler and all substance, this is one album you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again.
Nicholas Lane – Music Writer