Old... But the material's new
Review: Danny Brown – Old
Published on October 16th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
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Danny Brown’s third album Old is considerate enough to present itself as two distinct halves to suit your ever-changing moods. That may be contingent, however, on your mood vacillating predominantly between ruminative retrospection and, er, compulsively referring to your own member.
It’s hardly unique as a dichotomy in rap, so the success of Old lies in its non-penile content. To be coldly analytical about it, the production, lyrics and flow largely range from good to very good, albeit the latter can be so dizzyingly relentless as to dilute the impact of its content.
The likes of “Wonderbread” and “Dip” are appealingly bonkers, but there’s a nagging sort of ‘showcase’ feel about the album; a stockpiling of similarly hewn tracks that go down more like a collection of singles than the kind of sculpted journey that tends to be the mark of a great hip-hop LP.
Brown’s Ghostface-y abrasiveness inhabits the prevailing murk effectively, unravelling as a narrative so personal that it comes rubber-stamped with its own distinctive delivery. While that may not necessarily be a fault, it leaves Old overly reliant on guest spots to mix things up.
Scrufizzer’s Dizzee-ish yelp serves well to this end on “Dubstep”, and Charli XCX-featuring set-closer “Float On” sees the album bow out on perhaps its highest note. Beats-wise, the rumbling “Red 2 Go” is a particularly nifty piece of lateral thinking.
There’s not much to fault here, indeed there’s some cracking stuff; we’ll mention “Wonderbread” again as it’s a frankly ridiculous degree of fun. “Gremlins” has a chilling urgency about it, while “Lonely” is engulfed in the kind of dreamy swirl of ‘kush’ smoke that it’d have been good to hear infiltrate more of the album.
As Old wears on, the tracks become harsher, less confessional and, critically, less memorable. The varying quality is strangely at odds with Brown’s consistency of delivery – well, he has two voices: ‘sincere’ baritone and frivolous André 3000 squawk – but it’s entirely in keeping with his engaging eccentricity.
Old is out now on Fool’s Gold Records.
Three and a Half Quails out of Five!