Album review: Danny Brown’s ‘Old’

The rapper’s latest shows he can stay in the game.

By Brad Spudich | Oct. 9, 2013

Tags: Music Reviews

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After being forced to push back the release date multiple times, Danny Brown and Fool’s Gold Records finally arranged for his third studio album, Old, to be released on Tuesday.

Thankfully, the hip-hop gods came through for their disciples and the highly anticipated album was released early exclusively on Spotify.

Danny Brown’s popularity has skyrocketed within the past year. After the free release of his second album, XXX, Brown quickly developed a reputation for his high-pitched delivery, drug-suffused lyrics and a sexual chutzpah that makes listening to Mystikal sound like Kidz Bop.

His outlandish style (skinny jeans, Givenchy tees, untamed hair and chipped teeth) combined with his licentious stage antics (he recently made the news for receiving oral sex on stage during a concert in Minneapolis) have earned him a reputation as one of hip hop’s craziest. But if Old is set to touch on one aspect of his life, it’s maturation.

The 32-year-old Detroit native arrived to the hip hop scene late, and Old serves as a reflection of Brown’s whole life, from his Motown struggles of drug dependence, anxiety and depression, to his newfound fame.

In Old, we get to see both sides of Brown. “Side A” of the album allures to fans wanting “the old Danny Brown,” rapping over J Dilla-esque beats about gangbanging and before he evolved to his anomalistic ways.

The album commences with a hook made up of Brown reiterating the squawks of some of his early fans: “They want that old Danny Brown / To bag up and sell a whole pound / Might have to go and get my braids back / Matter of fact go and bring them AKs back.”

“Side A” reflects his old lifestyle, and in songs “The Return,” “Gremlins” and “Dope Fiend Rental,” he boasts crack sales, time in prison and resentment of cops. Tracks such as “25 Bucks,” “Lonely,” “Wonderbread” and “Clean Up” delineate the hardship of his childhood on Flanders Street in Detroit’s east side marked by murder, his mother hardly being able to provide for him, domestic abuse within his family and his development of depression, insensitivity and drug addiction.

“Side B” opens with “Dope Song,” an immediate transition to his rambunctious style, set off with a hard-hitting beat and the discernible fact that Brown doesn’t care what you, or anybody else, thinks. Marked by electronic influence beats and fast paced, in-your-face bars, the tracks on “Side B” are high energy and wild, alluding to copious drinking and MDMA. Although “Side B” initially appears to be only club bangers and an anthem of a good time, Brown’s depth is shown and he woefully spits about his life’s downward spiral intertwined to the party.

With guest appearances by A$AP Rocky, Purity Ring, Freddie Gibbs, Ab-Soul and Charli XCX, Brown delivers quite possibly one of the top albums of the year with enough depth to appeal to music fans across the board. He shows that he can set off a good time and still go bar-for-bar with any rapper in the game.

MOVE gives Old 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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