Jay Z once rapped, Niggas want my old shit/Buy my old albums. It was a lob at critics and fans who’d grown tired of the hip-hop elder statesmans shift toward so-called luxury rap. Fools Gold MC Danny Brown has a similar mindset. The Detroit MC has always been considered alt-rap, but he told hustler tales that were swathed in abject poverty. He was a braided, machine gun-wielding menace.
But Brown is not that anymore. A self-proclaimed hipster at heart, Brown has refashioned himself into a pill-popping, sex-loving party rocking jester. Its a role in which he now feels comfortable, and he fears a return to his old style would begat a return to his old lifestyle.
Thus, his new album, Old, reflects the dichotomy of his character. The album is divided, like a cassette, into two halves: Side A and Side B. The A-side certainly gives us the old Danny Brown: the street hustler determined to prosper by any means necessary. But Brown doesnt revel in his sinshes not slangin dope so he can cop hot whips and hot broads. Its merely a means of survival.
The Return, featuring Freddie Gibbs, borrows from Outkasts Return of the G in an effort to remind listeners that despite his fame and playful persona, Brown is still that hood-ass nigga. Purity Ring guests on 25 Bucks, where he faces the consequences of his criminal ways: Now Im trapped in the trap and the devil aint forgettin/Wanna see me dead or locked in a prison/In a system with division/Only thing that add up/Fucked up/Cuz a nigga only tryna get a couple bucks.
Like Eminem, another talented Detroit MC, Brown has a knack for making the tales in his rhymes sound ultra-surreal, giving his pain the bizarre vibe of a carnival sideshow act. Peep Gremlins, an urban horror story about wild kids who commit crimes with impunity. And Wonderbread is a twisted fairytale-like yarn of a young Brown on a mission to get bread from the local store. Along the way, he sees dope fiends and drive-bys; none of it fazes him nor deters him from mission to get the bread like his mother instructed him to.
Mercifully, by the time Old gets to Side B, the mood turns full-on jovial. Here, Brown is firmly in party mode, rocking out with the hipsters and hypebeasts that make up his labels fanbase.
The electrifying, A-Trak-produced Smokin & Drinkin is about exactly that; he pops molly (whooo!) and zones out on the frenetic Dip; and the freaky, nasty Handstand finds Brown loudly espousing his prowess as a master of oral sex.
Fashion killer A$AP Rocky stops by to put one in the air on Kush Coma. They say no ones ever overdosed on marijuana before, but this song could serve as evidence to the contrary. And things come full circle with album closer Float On, a next-morning hangover of a track featuring Charli XCX that references earlier tracks and finds Brown praying he lives long enough to make a significant impact on hip-hop.
Production primarily consists of turnt-up, zonked out beats provided by the likes of A-Trak, SKYWLKR, Rustie, BadBadNotGood, Paul White, and Oh No. They provide Old with a cohesive sound and an array of beats over which less dexterous MCs would stumble.
Danny Brown might be Old, but dont get it twistedthis old timer is just getting started.
Kush Coma (featuring A$AP Rocky and Zelooperz)
The Return (featuring Freddie Gibbs)
Float On (featuring Charli XCX)