Danny Brown - 'uknowhatimsayin¿' Review
There’s a particular avenue of mania that only music can provide, the feeling I get when listening to artists like Death Grips or clipping. is unmatched by any other form of media. The fact that you can put on headphones and inject surround sound panic directly into your consciousness is a scary idea, but addictive. Danny Brown has fuelled this injection of hysteria for many years now, developing his sound into anarchy on his last album Atrocity Exhibition, charting his descent into a drug-infused madness. Coming out on the other side of this madness comes a cleaned up Danny, as his latest album uknowwhatimsayin¿ Sees Danny reflecting on his messy past, maintaining his wonky and eerie style, but maturing it enough to where I feel comfortable he is in a better place.
The album opens with the suave and gripping ‘Change Up’ where an optimistic Danny Brown expresses his PTSD of his old lifestyle and finds a perfect balance of bleak and distressing verses that are brought up by an optimistic and almost triumphant hook. This sets the tone of the album as a whole as we hear Brown no longer living this lifestyle, but still reflecting on it in a (mostly) past tense. With this comes his usual hilarious bars and playful style alongside the usual dose of overly sexual lyricism. Unfortunately this sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lyricism gets to a point where it verges on the uncomfortable at points, as his constant degradation of sex and women becomes a little exhausting after 5 albums, even if he does find some creative ways to discuss it this time around.
In contrast to its occasional stale subject matter, the production on this album never misses and is without a doubt one of the best produced albums of the year. The first two singles ‘Dirty Laundry’ and ‘Best Life’ are masterclasses from legendary producer Q-Tip on how to make a track that is equal parts insanity and hip-hop banger, while the JPEGMafia produced ‘3 Tearz’ is a brilliantly wonky take on the classic boom-bap beat that Run The Jewels ride to perfection. But the beat that blew me away the most across this short and sweet tracklist was the Playa Haze produced, ‘Savage Nomad’, a slow and sinister bop that utilises a crispy clear guitar riff amongst a grimy and lo-fi drum loop. The pairing of the high and low frequencies make for one of the best beats Danny Brown has rapped over and it honestly makes it hard to focus on the lyricism when a beat is that dirty.
There’s no doubt that Danny Brown can rap, and at this point you are coming into this project with an expectation of what you’re going to hear, and while many aspects of his lyrics tread the same ground as his previous work, the hilarious metaphors and ways he goes about saying them is what make him so listenable and this album so repeatable. Lines like ‘Did the humpty hump in a Burger King bathroom’ and or ‘I’m anemic with the ink, you a Stevie Wonder blink’ are actually insane and I can’t tell if i’m losing or gaining brain cells by listening to them. This in combination with the production has always been what places Brown in his own lane and makes him so lovable and hectic, but on this album there is an air of new beginnings rather than insanity.
uknowhatimsayin¿ doesn’t end on the same semi-suicidal note that Atrocity Exhibition did, and it doesn’t start on a wave of paranoia either, it starts and ends with Brown moving on from his past and just having fun with it, which is exactly what this album is, fun.
Listen to the album below: