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Danny Brown - Quaranta (Album Review)

Monday, 27 November 2023 Written by Jack Terry

Photo: Peter Beste

Danny Brown is a busy man. The Detroit rapper has already released one album this year — ‘Scaring The Hoes’, a supreme collaborative effort with JPEGMAFIA — as well as maintaining a weekly podcast. It’s also been a time of immense change, with a stint in rehab a capper to the circumstances that led to the creation of ‘Quaranta’ during a period of heavy drinking and drug use that spilled out of the pandemic.

The album underlines that his growth has been a drawn out process. According to Brown the album has been ready for three years — one prompt for getting to rehab was a series of drunken outbursts aimed at his record label and manager for, he felt, delaying its release — and the maths check out.

Quaranta is Italian for 40. Now approaching 43, Brown has grown away from his narcotic career best ‘XXX’ and here we get the most introspective and conscientious material we’ve ever heard from him.

“This rap shit done saved my life / and fucked it up at the same time,” is the opening bar, delivered in a low and slow style that feels a far cry from his best known tracks, as spaghetti western guitars slide and wail in the background.

Down Wit It is a verbal autopsy of a love lost to drink and drugs, continues his heart-rending self-analysis. “All alone, now I'm feeling like a clown / Should've listened to my homie when he told me slow down,” he admits as screeching guitars swell to cataclysmic heights. Although it's not the voice we've come to know from Brown, it's still unequivocally his, revealing an elastic creative range to his performance.

That’s not to say he’s entirely left his typical style behind, as he reverts to his charismatic and distinctive register on tracks like Tantor and Dark Sword Angel. His high-pitched bombast is expertly paired with deep bass and a plethora of samples that make listening to ‘Quaranta’ feel like a walk through a prop store, with different treats to be spotted at every turn.

Brown has also brought it external help in the form of rapper MIKE on Celibate and percussionist Kassa Overall on Jenn’s Terrific Vacation, which wind up being a pair of  album highlights. But it's Bruiser Wolf’s verse on Y.B.P. that comes closest to stealing the show, his rubber band delivery taking E-40’s classic narrative measure and updating it for 2023.

‘Quaranta’ is proof that to grow up is not to lose yourself entirely. And while there are comparisons to be drawn with ‘XXX’ or 2016’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, it feels right to let it stand alone. For now, at least. This is a new age of Danny Brown — he’s grown and gnarled, but as supremely talented as ever.

Danny Brown Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon December 04 2023 - LONDON Village Underground

Compare & Buy Danny Brown Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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