A Conversation with Danny Brown

Danny Brown

A Conversation with Danny Brown

Host Andrew Barber and rapper Danny Brown converse about the hip-hop star’s influences, approaches, record label, future plans and much more.

Danny Brown’s Cinematic Universe

Andrew Barber

2 Min Read

Danny Brown’s “Greatest Rapper Ever” sounded like nothing else when it came out in 2010. While Detroit always had its own sound, fashion and slang, Danny brought something fresh. Raw and unfiltered, his blue-collar style offered unique insight into the city’s scene. I needed to hear more, so I downloaded everything available at the time. Many listeners felt the same way; Danny soon became a fixture on music blogs, in magazines and on websites.

In the months that followed, Danny’s debut album, “The Hybrid,” made some noise. But it was his subsequent release, “XXX” (2011), that exploded. The album’s experimental sound draws from hip-hop and Detroit techno, which helped expose the record to a broad audience that went beyond rap fans. Dealing with themes ranging from substance abuse to drug dealing and death, all leveraged with a sense of fun, it manages to showcase life’s ups and downs in one digestible package. Honesty and humor became pillars of Danny’s career. 

During the next decade, Danny doubled down on that formula, crafting albums that never sounded the same but fit within his distinctive cinematic universe. The overall approach of “Atrocity Exhibition” (2016) stands apart from “uknowwhatImsayin¿” (2019), but both sound like Danny Brown albums. And on “Old,” the follow-up to “XXX,” he again poked fun at his age. While rappers who are more than 30 years old are often deemed irrelevant, Danny’s popularity continues to soar — a sign that times and norms are changing. He’s been a road warrior and a staple at festivals such as Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork and Coachella. He keeps innovating, evolving and pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop can and should be. 

Recently, the pandemic gave Danny the time he needed to expand his reach and invest in ventures such as his record label (and crew) Bruiser Brigade. Danny has repped the Bruisers for years but mainly focused on the output of one artist, Zelooperz. He’s since fully embraced his label, and dropped three of 2021’s best rap albums in the form of releases by Bruiser Wolf, J.U.S. and Fat Ray. 

Also due in 2021: “40,” the long-awaited bookend to “XXX” that coincides with Danny’s 40th trip around the sun. In addition to dishing on aspects of his childhood and career, Danny provides exclusive details about the LP in our in-depth conversation. 

Andrew Barber is the owner/creator of Fake Shore Drive, a Chicago-based media, management and events company founded in 2007. Andrew is also a playlist curator, published music journalist, artist manager, brand and record label consultant and media personality. Andrew currently sits as Governor of The Recording Academy’s Grammy board. His radio show, The Drive on Shade 45, airs weekly on SiriusXM, and has been on air for over six years. He has also hosted programming on MTV and one of Chicago’s top radio stations, 107.5 WGCI-FM. As a journalist, Andrew has been published in publications such as VICE, Complex, Fader, XXL, Mass Appeal and more. Andrew’s company, Fake Shore Drive, has been instrumental in the rise of Chicago’s hip-hop scene, having helped cultivate the careers of Chance the Rapper, Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Vic Mensa and the many other gold- and platinum-selling artists.

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