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Danny Brown - uknowhatimsayin¿ (Album Review)

Friday, 18 October 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Things are ticking over nicely for Danny Brown. His new chat show, Danny’s House, is airing on Viceland while his fifth album—the follow up to 2016’s well received ‘Atrocity Exhibition’—has managed to secure exec-production from hip hop royalty and A Tribe Called Quest co-founder Q-Tip. The result is a taut record of playfully evasive and inventive music that further cements his status as one of the most unique talents in rap.

In many ways, Q-Tip’s involvement is telling. Tracks like Change Up, Theme Song and Combat feel old school, melding bassy grooves and vintage samples with Brown’s unmistakable patter. This is offset by real innovation in tonal composition. Actually, much of ‘uknowwhatimsayin¿’ recalls near-forgotten alt-hip hop pioneers Antipop Consortium; the crucial difference being that Brown’s music is shot through with so much humour.

This is demonstrated on Belly of the Beast (feat. Obongjayar). Here, Brown raps over menacing alien voices, military snares and stop-start rhythms, all punctuated by Obongjayar’s bold Nigerian intermissions.

The result is a dreamy interstellar voyage that feels truly weird and utterly compelling. Similarly, Dirty Laundry plays with its own form. We are greeted by neon musical tones and cash register bleeping, which suggest a conventional pop track, and instead are taken through a kind of groove maze.

This is also the case on the superb Negro Spiritual (feat. JPEGMAFIA) which, despite maintaining a more consistent drum loop, has the freedom of tonality that old school sampling affords. One of the key developments in hip hop composition since trap took over is that most tracks are composed on piano-based synthesizers instead of using musical samples. The result is a renewed focus on keyboard melodies and often child-like simplicity in chord progressions. 

Because old school (read: pre-Kanye) tracks were often composed using non-musically-linear audio samples by crate-digging producers, the tonal variation was more random and creative: more like contemporary jazz. Brown’s music (and Kanye’s, for that matter) exists at the intersection of this dynamic. It suggests a genuinely freeform approach to composition which is borne out by the inventiveness of his bars. It is his best work to date, and suggests there is plenty to come from the Detroit native.

Danny Brown Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 18 2019 - DALLAS - Canton Hall (USA)
Sat October 19 2019 - AUSTIN Texas - Empire Control Room and Garage (USA)
Mon October 21 2019 - PHOENIX Arizona - Crescent Ballroom (USA)
Tue October 22 2019 - POMONA California - Glass House (USA)
Wed October 23 2019 - SAN DIEGO California - Music Box (USA)
Fri October 25 2019 - LOS ANGELES California - Regent Theater DTLA (USA)
Sat October 26 2019 - SAN FRANCISCO California - August Hall (USA)
Mon October 28 2019 - PORTLAND Oregon - Roseland Theater (USA)
Tue October 29 2019 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Vogue Theatre Vancouver (Canada)
Thu October 31 2019 - SEATTLE Washington - Showbox (USA)
Sat November 02 2019 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Complex (USA)
Sun November 03 2019 - DENVER Colorado - Cervantes (USA)
Tue November 05 2019 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - First Avenue (USA)
Thu November 07 2019 - CHICAGO Illinois - Metro (Chicago) (USA)
Fri November 08 2019 - MILWAUKEE Wisconsin - Rave 2 (USA)
Sun November 10 2019 - CLEVELAND Ohio - House of Blues Cleveland presented by Cricket Wireless (USA)
Mon November 11 2019 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Theatre Of Living Arts (USA)
Wed November 13 2019 - BALTIMORE Maryland - Baltimore Soundstage (USA)
Fri November 15 2019 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Big Night Live (USA)
Sun November 17 2019 - NEW HAVEN Connecticut - Toads Place New Haven (USA)
Mon November 18 2019 - BROOKLYN New York - Warsaw (USA)
Tue November 19 2019 - MONTREAL Quebec - Corona Theatre (Canada)
Wed November 20 2019 - TORONTO Ontario - Phoenix Concert Theatre (Canada)

Click here to compare & buy Danny Brown Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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