When XXX, Danny Brown’s second album, dropped in 2011, it was clear that this was something different. Here was a guy with a wild mane, missing his two front teeth and sporting a Frank Zappa T-shirt, tearing up every bar with a voice all his own. Brown confesses on “XXX” that the record is his last chance at success, how the then-30-year-old rapper had been trying to break into the game for so long that he became dependent on various prescription drugs, which would likely bring him to his death.
And that was just the first track.
On “Radio Song,” the album’s lead single, he explains, “That’s why these wack rappers, they never last long/don’t care about music, just radio songs.” There was a freshness (and humor, particularly the cunnilingus anthem “I Will”) in Brown’s work that doesn’t come around often, and, rightfully, people were quick to catch on. XXX is without a doubt, a modern classic, and his upcoming follow-up Old, due in August, is one of the year’s most anticipated releases.
PW spoke to Brown over the phone last week midway though his national tour.
PW: So, you’re the best rapper alive right now. What does that feel like?
Danny Brown: To be honest, I used to tell myself that all the time. (Laughs) I don’t know. I don’t really think that. I think Kendrick [Lamar] is, so.
Is it scary? You’ve been doing this for years, but you got popular pretty quickly.
I don’t feel like I’m popular. I still go to 7/11, don’t nobody say nothing to me. I still walk around and do normal shit. People don’t fuck with me, you know? So, I don’t really feel like that.
You said in interviews that you’re “Internet popular.”
Yeah, I can say that. But just in the normal, regular world, I don’t really have that much problems. I just be chillin’.
What’s your new album like?
When I make albums, I just wanna be as unpredictable as possible. ‘Cause I just hate something that’s just ... normal, you know? I don’t want it to be nothing that’s in the middle, I want people to either love it or hate it. That’s how I feel about it. I love it. But I know there’s gonna be a some people that are gonna hate it, and there’s gonna be people that love it. I don’t do shit that’s on the fence.
One last thing: Do you think more fans have been going down because of your music?
Nah, I wouldn’t say that. Lil Wayne was talking that shit way before me too. I just put the comedy into it, that’s all. It’s like treading the line with the sex and shit, treading the line between creepy and perverted. I don’t want to be the old creepy, perverted guy. I keep the comedy in it, just to make it funny.
Postscript: Later that night, in Minneapolis, a woman gave Brown head onstage, tales of which lit up Twitter. So it turns out Danny’s music has inspired his fans to perform oral sex after all.
Wed., May 8. 8pm. $15. With Kitty, Twurkaholics. Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011. tlaphilly.com
PW's Music Issue 2014