"More than a punch-line champ"
Photo: Brock Fetch | Interview: Peter Madsen
In the same cultural moment where today’s instant-classic album was yesterday’s free-to-download, comes Danny Brown, a rapper and producer whose aptly-titled 2010 album The Hybrid hints at the myriad, seemingly contradictory qualities that make him so interesting. This Detroiter has an almost superhuman control of his pitch and breath-control, starting and stopping, buzzing and bouncing over beats that allude to the early days of Definitive Jux. Track by track, Danny entertains: “All my bitches eat pussy like Missy / But they look like Chrissy / from Three’s Company, roll another blunt for me…” He even delivers his disses with a smile: “My chocolate melts in your girl’s mouth, Mr Goodbar!” More than a punch-line champ, Danny also reports on teen pregnancy and splurges with a benefits card, and expresses the bleak ambition of small-time drug-dealers. Danny simultaneously appeals to rap heads and people who don’t like rap, holding forth with the new guard (Tha Pack, Odd Future, Das Racist, Ninjasonik) while having also collaborated with Tony Yayo and almost getting signed to 50 Cent’s G-Unit. Danny and I twisted one up in his van after his Death Match set and had the following words.
You asked me what I thought about your set and I said it was funny.
I put a lot of comedy into it, even though there’s truth and serious shit in there. That’s the way to break it to people when you’re telling them something serious. Coming from Detroit, that’s what we’re known for. There are a lot of guys who take themselves too seriously. They’re trying to be gangster and there aren’t any jokes. I talk about the same stuff, but I figured out a way to put some humor into it.
Is it true that 50-Cent wouldn’t sign you because of your skinny jeans?
Yeah, that’s true.
Why did you start wearing tight jeans?
In about ’02, ’03 I went to New York, and it was my first time leaving Detroit. I was going to what you’d call “hipster clubs” with rock music and not too much dancing. My preference with women are white girls, so I’d go to these clubs but I would still have the big pants, army coats, Air Force Ones, and I was getting no bitches, man! I had to get some bitches.
Your music increases the height of ollies. I speak from personal experience.
That’s an honor. My love for skating came from videogames. I started with Skate or Die, back in the day, on regular Nintendo! Then Tony Hawk Pro Skater started to get better with its soundtracks: Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock. Skating has influenced a lot of things, including music.
What’s the future of rap?
Rap’s back to how it used to be, like in the ’70s, but in a digital way. Back then there were only like a dozen rappers, and you bought all the records that came out if you were into rap. Right now, you choose what the fuck you want to listen to, and it don’t matter what the label put out. Somebody could upload a CD from their bedroom and it could be the hottest shit tomorrow. It’s like a digging-thing—everyone wants to find the most unsigned artist who’s hot but no one knows about yet.
What’s the biggest advantage to not having two front teeth?
It’s all clitoris action, man!