Over the past three years, Detroit MC Danny Brown has been amassing one of rap’s most loyal cult followings. A student of the game, his diverse arsenal of styles has proved challenging for some rap listeners to pin down exactly what makes him such an intriguing figure. He’s performing at Roseland Ballroom tomorrow night with A$AP Rocky. To help new converts familiarize themselves with the man’s many faces, we’ve assembled five very different, defining songs of his.
“Dilla Bot vs. The Hybrid” 2009
By breaking the ice with “I break laws, jaws, and false promises,” many got their first taste of Brown on the posthumous J Dilla album Jay Stay Paid. With a furious stream of punchlines, Brown used his then-biggest platform to put himself on the map as an exciting MC to watch.
“Guitar Solo” 2010
Brown’s 2010 album The Hybrid helped not only cultivate him a substantial buzz, but also began to flush out how talented he is behind the mic. While the album displayed his trademark humor and hinted at his penchant for experimentation, “Guitar Solo” illustrated how well Brown could weave a heart-wrenching narrative.
Brown’s breakthrough album, 2011’s XXX, shocked many new listeners with how unconventional his flows and vocal patterns varied over the album’s 15 tracks. The closer, “30,” is the album’s absolute crescendo as Brown painfully stretches his soul as far as it can reach, to the point where it sounds as if he’s flipping rap conventions and using it to forcefully dictate where the beat itself goes. “LOL” 2011
Shortly after the release of XXX, Brown returned alongside fellow Detroit native Black Milk for their EP Black and Brown. Bouncing back to the much, much more conventional end of the spectrum, Brown’s dizzying array of punchlines on “LOL” continues to show why he’s among the most entertaining artists in the genre today.
“Grown Up” 2012
Produced by Party Supplies, Brown’s “Grown Up” is a semiautobiographical tune that not only paints a picture of his own upbringing, but also touches on the elements of being a kid that resonate universally. Along with one of the best videos of the year, “Grown Up” is the best explanation you’ll find as to where Brown’s perspective is today.