Danny Brown can’t wait to get ‘Old’

Alex Burnham, Writer

After a wayfaring 2013 that included performing at Coachella, joining a tour with Baauer, headlining at SXSW and rapping at Dillo Day, rapper Danny Brown added a third studio album to his list of achievements.

“Old,” available on Spotify and officially released Oct. 8, features numerous collaborations with Brown’s favorite performers. A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Purity Ring contribute both verses and production on the 56-minute, 19-song album.

Brown divided “Old” into two sides, A and B, as if the compilation were vinyl. According to an interview with Pitchfork, this aesthetic division refers to the Detroit rapper’s ability to entertain two discrete styles: “underground hip-hop” and “turned up s—.” The first half contains grittier material (hip-hop), and the second half includes festival-style bangers.

On the first side are songs like “25 Bucks (feat. Purity Ring),” a minimalistic gossamer sound. Sonically the track is gaseous, a ghostly concentration of restraint. A snare drum claps once every measure amid a pulsing, electronic metronome. However, from a lyrical perspective, the song is much denser. Every second hook Megan James sings with her ethereal voice, “I’ll not get old if I dig with my knees, if I grind with my teeth.”

The three-minute track epitomizes “Old” from a thematic perspective with a descriptive narration of Brown’s life in an unorganized, unfiltered manner. The poverty of his family and the degradation of life around him is evidenced in “25 Bucks.” He explains how his mother sat on the porch and cut hair to feed the family. Songs on “Old” expose the rotting carcass that is the journey to Brown’s maturity.

“If you really ballin’, mommy cop Chinese food,” Brown raps comically, yet honestly.

“XXX,” Brown’s previous album, functioned similarly, but the rapper admittedly injected vulgarity for the mere sake of doing so. This time around, the Detroit MC avoids the “dick-sucking” jokes, ensuring that “Old” is a “challenge.”

Yet Brown does not avoid fellatio altogether, referencing the act in “Dope Fiend Rental (Feat. Schoolboy Q),” but here, he attempts to tell his story honestly, sex acts included, without forcing humor.

And although the rapper succeeds in his narration, a major achievement on “Old” is the second half of the album. Production excels. The first track, titled “Side B (Dope Song),” contains a deceivingly long introduction, one that makes the bass drop much more satisfying. Snappy rhythm leads into a destructive explosion of noise and Brown screaming, “dope song.”

Two songs later, on a piece titled “Dip,” the festival/trap experience continues. Sporadic snare claps, heavy bass and voice modulation synergize to create a song that radiates energy.

Almost every song on this half of the album oozes vivacity. In fact, any song from this section could make a party playlist. Brown raps with visceral fervor, jackhammering every track to a point of absurdity. The bridge of “Smokin & Drinkin” has Brown speedily breathing, just before the drop, “And we smoke blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt.”

None of “Old” disappoints. Fans of “XXX” will love the new album because Brown employs his unique, spectacular style of rapping. Additionally, the content change is refreshing. But, aside from production, the crowning jewel of “Old” is its sincerity.

As Brown raps on “Float On (feat. Charli XCX),” the album’s ultimate track, “And not for the money for the life after dying … just to see my influence in this genre of music.”

It’s only a matter of time.

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