Danny Brown lyricism intricately channels danger, deep thought in new album


Parker Greenwood, Staff Reporter

A hopeless, drug-filled basement in the aftermath of a rave is the atmosphere that immediately presents itself on the first track, “Downward Spiral,” off of Danny Brown’s new album “Atrocity Exhibition.” Brown seems to be talking about a point in his life when he was on a journey of self-discovery.

“Tell Me What I Don’t Know” expresses that many aspects of Brown’s life have become apparent amid police targeting of African-Americans, a major topic of discussion. Brown tackles this heavy topic, showcasing a song that discusses being shot heading to the store to purchase a cigarillo.

Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt all come together on “Really Doe,” a track initially released as a single in preparation for the album. As he is arguably the most important voice of this generation of hip-hop, including Lamar on this track was a major power play, and it shows. The song requires multiple listens, mostly because it gets stuck in your head.

“Lost,” referencing Stanley Kubrick, works to convince the listener that Brown is a genius of his craft. Turning up the energy in the following track, “Ain’t it Funny,” there’s validity in this declaration. 

“Pneumonia” easily takes the spot as the smoker’s ballad of the album, with Brown referencing his possession of “half a pound of artichoke.” Shifting to one of the more upbeat tracks featured, “Dance In The Water,” while not a bad song, seems a little out of place in the album. There is no other way to put it–“Atrocity Exhibition” is a dark album, even when the songs are catchy and high-tempo.

Brown recaptures this feeling in “When It Rain.” Thoughts going a mile a minute, the listener’s mind races from lyric to lyric, as a vision of a violent neighborhood caught in a drug war is conjured up. The scene is reminiscent of Brown’s Detroit upbringing, a city boasting one of the highest murder rates in the United States, right alongside New Orleans. 

To counter this dark idea of being shot in the street, “Today” focuses on living for the moment, knowing that every day we face uncertain death. To signal that the album is near the end, “Get Hi – B-Real” takes on a much more mellow mood. 

To make sure, however, that the listener does not forget the topics that Brown has been delving into, “Hell For It” finishes the album with a strong recounting of his thoughts as he raps about his perseverance as an artist and person. 

If this album seems like a bad psychedelic experience involving self-thought and societal analysis, it is, and it works wonderfully.

Leave a comment