Music Review: Danny Brown, "Old"

Listening to the first half of “Old,” the third studio album from Detroit rapper Danny Brown, is the equivalent of getting punched by a pillow-wrapped fist.

Brown delivers his detailed tales of life on the streets with such ferocity. But his approach is never as hard-hitting as his stories mostly due to the backing music that stays away from heavy bass and stale 808 beats.

If you had to categorize Brown’s music, the term “alternative hip hop” is the closest you’re going to get. Even that moniker really doesn’t do it justice.

Brown’s soft landings allow him to sound as comfortable rapping about gunfire as he does about Givenchy clothing.

He isn’t really blazing any trails with his lyrical content. You’ve probably heard most of these stories before in rap songs.

And while Brown seems to not have totally forgotten his drug-fueled past, “Old” is his coming of age.

“It’s time for me to clean it up. I came too far to f--k it up,” he proclaims on “Clean Up.”

A little more than halfway into the album, Brown has had enough. The bass picks up as does his intensity on “Smokin and Drinkin.” Brown brings it harder than he has on any of his albums, and certainly much more so than the first half of this release.

He is downright frantic on “Dip” as he raps over a backing beat that sounds like it was ripped from the latest Nine Inch Nails album.

While “Old” may take on two different personalities, Brown stays on his game to keep the album together.

Letting loose may be the best prescription for Brown’s career.

Rating: Three and a half stars

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