Since emerging in the late ‘00s, Danny Brown has refused to take the same approach twice. Andrew Barber guides you through the highlights of the Detroit rapper’s growing catalog with this annotated playlist.
“Greatest Rapper Ever”:
A bold proclamation from a then-relatively new rapper. This was the record that put Danny on my radar. The voice, the delivery, the beat: brash and raw. And that video? Unforgettable.
“What up Doe”:
Danny’s “Hot Soup” mixtape sounds better than many artists’ official albums. It’s an early look at the great things to come, showcasing his lyricism over traditional Detroit hip-hop production. As for the title? “What up Doe” is a popular Detroit greeting; this record serves the same purpose.
When you press “play” on Danny’s highly acclaimed “XXX” album, the first thing you hear is this leadoff track — a warm welcome into his world and the first indication the LP will be unlike anything you’ve ever heard.
Danny Brown Featuring Freddie Gibbs, “The Return”:
Freddie Gibbs and Danny have similar career trajectories and share a special Midwest bond that has been captured on tracks like “High” (from Gibbs and Madlib’s “Pinata” album) and this song, from Danny’s “Old” LP. The duo goes together like peanut butter and jelly.
Danny Brown Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt, “Really Doe”:
A showcase of top-notch rapping from four of modern rap’s greatest talents. There’s simply no way a song featuring Danny, Kendrick, Ab and Earl can fail.
Danny’s 2019 album, “uknowwhatimsayin¿,” was executive produced by hip-hop icon Q-Tip, who helped Danny create one of his most ambitious and cohesive projects. As Danny told me, “it’s Queensbridge cosplay” — a NYC rap album rooted in Detroit, as evidenced by this track.
Danny’s “XXX” album resonated with countless listeners because it had subject matter to which many people relate. If you don’t deal with depression or substance abuse problems, you know someone who does. Tracks like “DNA” hammer that fact home.
“Red 2 Go”:
Producer Paul White is behind some of my favorite Danny records, with “Red 2 Go” near the very top. With hilarious lines like “Bruiser makes the 2 Live Crew look like some Mormons,” this track is hard to beat.
“Ten G’s a Week”:
A bouncy standout from “Hot Soup” (2008), produced by Nick Speed.
The Detroit Tigers’ “D” one of the most iconic sports logos in history. “New Era” is Danny’s ode to that insignia, his hometown and the ball cap. “And I reps that shit right now forever, Olde English D on a blue New Era,” he proclaims.
With Q-Tip supplying the beat and adlibs, “Combat” wins on all fronts. Chasing the bag is a combat zone, so let Danny provide a little game on how to beat the game. Or at least how to stay in the game.
“Die Like a Rockstar”:
A grim look at life and death, whether on the block or in the music industry.
Press “play” on this song, then go watch the video. Immediately.
J.U.S. Featuring Danny Brown, “Have Mercy”:
Danny’s label, Bruiser Brigade, has been on a hell of a run in 2021. The year’s first release came from his longtime associate, J.U.S., and a stellar outing that includes two Danny collabs. Both are dope.