Review: Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
National Music Reviews
Danny Brown = ODB + E-40 + Bizzy Bone
After a three-year hiatus from releasing an album, the wildly innovative, hilarious and highly influential rapper Danny Brown is back on the scene. Atrocity Exhibition is a rowdy, 15-track work that will allow fans to breath a sigh of relief. Brown, in all his strangeness, is here again. Brown is currently on tour and will be at The Complex this Saturday, Oct. 1, for what will undoubtedly be a crazy show.
When live, Danny Brown gets just as rowdy as is expected. He is truly a talented showman and knows how to work a crowd. The bass is loud and heavy, which gives a new feel to many of his songs. It takes a lot of talent to be able to hold one’s own as a solo emcee, but Brown, like the pro that he is, has played festivals from Bonnaroo to Pitchfork and always draws huge crowds. His show this Saturday is a must-see for underground hip-hop fans. For his Atrocity Exhibition tour, Brown will play with up-and-coming gangster rapper Maxo Kream and experimental rapper Zeelooperz.
Danny Brown broke into the hip-hop scene at a pivotal moment, releasing his first major album XXX in 2011 as a free download with Fool’s Gold Records. Brown helped define a new era of hip-hop, creating new music at the same time as other highly influential artists like Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar and more. Unlike the artists around him, Brown brings a completely original style. A$AP Rocky tapped into Houston chopped and screwed music, and Lamar had a distinctly West Coast influence. Brown, on the other hand, stood out on his own, sporting a cheesy grin and crazy hair. His vocals were high-pitched and whiny, and his rhyme schemes were ruthless and often hilarious.
Atrocity Exhibition is made in the same style as Brown’s older albums. The EP is almost chiefly produced by Paul White, who also DJs at Brown’s shows. The beats on the album are reminiscent of old school instrumentals but have an experimental feel, which pairs well with Brown’s vocals. “When It Rain” is particularly catchy. The instrumental is high tempo and jumps along at an almost alarming rate. As always, Brown’s rapping can keep up, adding a special spice and craziness to the track.
Danny Brown’s vocals on Atrocity Exhibition are similar to those on his last two albums, Old and XXX. He talks of crazy party nights, adderall binges and general debauchery in almost every song. The album is peppered with features from singers like Petite Noir and Kelela, which do a good job of breaking up the repetition of Brown’s lyrics and meter. Features on the song “Really Doe” by Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt make it arguably the best on the album. The three rappers go well together: Lamar’s soft voice is a needed contrast to the high octaves of Brown, and Earl Sweatshirt has a quality verse, sounding much more grown-up when compared to his 2011 self.
For an album that was three years in the making, Atrocity Exhibition does not seem to make too many large splashes stylistically. It would be nice to see some different styles from Danny Brown, seeing as we have not heard from him in a while. Hip-hop and rap have gone through some radical changes since the release of Old. Still, why ruin something that works? Atrocity Exhibition shows that Brown has perfected his style. Songs like “Pneumonia” are influenced by the trap sounds that flood today’s soundwaves, showing that Brown can indeed keep up with modern-day styles.
As a veteran of the rap game, Danny Brown is a must-see live. Although he is on tour for his new album, one can expect to hear a full range of songs from his whole musical collection. If you want to be a part of something crazy and have a talented rapper infiltrate your ears, see Brown this weekend at The Complex’s all-ages show. Tickets are still available at thecomplexslc.com. –Taylor Hartman