When Danny Brown welcomes us into the suite he’s inhabiting at London’s Ace Hotel, he’s in high spirits. He cracks a wide grin, showing off the new grill that conceals his signature chipped front teeth, and offers up a drink from the mini-bar. Save for a few choice feature verses, it’s been three years since we’ve heard from the Detroit rapper - and they’ve been the best of his life. Now 35-years-old, Danny has spent the past 36 months ticking off the things he believes he probably should have achieved earlier in life: he bought a house, he got his daughter into a good school, and he learned to drive - even if the latter was just so that he could buy a Porsche! “To be honest, I’m too stuck in my ways,” he admits, when asked about life behind the wheel. “Driving takes too much responsibility. I like to drink, I smoke.”
In a constantly accelerating music industry, Danny isn’t concerned by the time taken to craft his latest body of work. Even from first listen, ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, released on legendary label Warp Records, feels timeless; considered, free of volatile references, and with boundary-pushing production that sounds unlike anything else on the market. “I want my albums to mature,” he says. “More than just be the talk of two weeks. Sometimes they say something is the best album in the world for two weeks, and then ain’t nobody talking about it. I’d rather skip all the hype. Tell me [what you think] a year later!” As an avid music fan with an eclectic taste himself, Danny understands the value of dodging the trends and making music that lasts.
Even delving back into his catalogue now, and pulling up a record like ‘XXX’ -released on trendy Brooklyn-based label Fool’s Gold in 2011 - the content sounds as refreshing as ever. It was on that release that he first began working with Paul White, who had initially reached out to Danny after being captivated by ‘The Hybrid’’s ‘The Greatest Rapper Ever’. The Lewisham producer has been somewhat of a secret weapon to Brown over the past three albums, and comes into his own this time around handling the vast majority of the album. When talking about Danny, Paul refers constantly to their compatible energies: unique, powerful, raw and intense. Despite being forged over 3000 miles apart, this is a connection born out of real feeling.
“I have over 500 beats from him,” Danny proclaims enthusiastically. “Some of these beats on this album is from the batch from ‘XXX’. I just wasn’t mature enough in my songwriting to execute them right.” From this stash, Danny keeps playlists that he returns to whenever it’s ready to get back into album mode. “I look at it like me and him prepare the meal, and then I get everybody else to put the seasoning on it. He starts the album and I just get a little flavour from everybody else.” On ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, the seasoning comes courtesy of a stellar line-up that includes Black Milk, Alchemist, Evian Christ and Petite Noir. “Our marriage of arts is something I’m very proud of,” says White, a few days after our conversation with Danny.
“Creativity first and sticking to that. Being such a part of the vision, my energy helping to tell stories and create worlds. It’s guts, grit, honesty and magic.”