This album was released on October 4th last year. At one point Danny Brown was in the ever-changing list of my 10 favorite rappers. He hasn’t really done anything to make me like him less. I still love him and his music. It’s just that I decided there are other rappers that I love even more than him. Who knows though? Maybe after I listen to more of his future albums he’ll be right back in the list. I made sure to review this project for a couple reasons: 1. I started a Danny Brown Marathon a few years ago, so I have to keep that updated. 2. I love Danny Brown lol. Many of my friends and acquaintances seemed a little disappointed in this project when it dropped, but I’m positive that I’ll be satisfied. As much as I loved Atrocity Exhibition, I don’t think it’s the flawless masterpiece that everyone else seems to view it as. It’s my favorite album of his at the moment, but I’ve always said that Old would be my favorite project from him if it only contained Side A. I really enjoyed the two singles that I heard from this album, and I’m interested in hearing Danny Brown go in a more traditional direction thanks to Q-Tip. I think this shit is gonna be great.
The album starts off with Change Up, and as soon as this track began I had a big, dumb smile on my face. I absolutely love the production from Paul White. Danny raps in his regular, more toned down voice here, and the first verse is super well written. That Clipse allusion was nice.
Lost in the streets, found on the beat
Still kept a clip, asked, and got it for cheap
Now I’m in the world where they pray for the weak
Stand-up niggas take shots to the knees
The hook is great, and the second verse is fire too. I really love this song. It’s not a super weird, over the top track that’d appear on XXX or Atrocity Exhibition. This is more like something that’d appear on Side A of Old or maybe The Hybrid, and I fucking love it. It’s dope as hell. It’s followed by Theme Song, which I believe is produced by Cartie Curt. The beat here is kind of strange and dreamy; I really love it. Danny killed that first verse too.
Oh boy, you in trouble, rattled the lion cage
Hope God strikes you down while you’re prayin’ on stage
Git at your burial, smoke squares at your grave
Then repent for my sins like, “God, I’m saved”
He always forgive; later on, I forget
I had my fingers crossed, so I’m back on that shit
Catch another body ‘fore the song get mixed
The bullets is the lyrics, turn the rapper to a spirit
The hook is pretty simplistic, but I fuck with it. I really love the aggression Danny’s showing towards other rappers on this track. The second verse was great, and I appreciate him paying respects to Prodigy. The song is dope. Track 3 is called Dirty Laundry, and it was the lead single for the album.
I fucking love it. The production from Q-Tip is absolutely stellar, and Danny killed this shit. I love the way he paints such a vivid picture of the desperate conditions in which he grew up.
Ever seen a roach with babies have babies?
In the hood like whatever, we in this bitch together
Once got a ho, ain’t had money for the room
So we did the humpty-hump in a Burger King bathroom
The second verse is even better than the first one in my opinion. This quatrain is crazy…
High Tide, Gain off the Arm & Hammer
Swim towards the current, system try to drown me
Stain your record like Clorox ‘n’ darks
Spin cycle had four tops for one
The little anecdote about having sex with a stripper in the third verse was really dope too. I fucking love this track, man. I have zero gripes with it at all. This shit is dope af. The following track is called 3 Tearz, and it features Run the Jewels.
This was the third single from the album, but I never actually listened to it before hearing the full project. The Kanye producer tag from JPEGMAFIA is hilarious. The beat is dope as hell too. The first verse from Danny was pretty good, but not amazing or anything. The hook is cool, and the second verse from El-P is great. Killer Mike probably had my favorite verse though. I wasn’t really blown away by any of the performances here, but I’m definitely satisfied. It’s a dope song. It’s followed by a major highlight for me on the album, Belly of the Beast. That weird ass beat from Paul White is fucking crazy. I love it. Danny murdered that first verse too.
Nigga, I’m anemic with the ink, you a Stevie Wonder blink
I take a piss in that same sink you wash dishes with
You’re illiterate, ya Bisquick soft
I pulled the biscuit then you dipped like cocktail sauce
The vocals from Obongjayar on the hook also sound really weird, but I like them a lot. The actual lyrics from him are oddly nightmarish and bleak, which isn’t really the case for the first verse from Danny.
This can’t be real, I’m in a dream
I don’t have skin, I just shine
They can’t contain me, I’m free
It feels like losing your mind
The second verse from Danny has a couple lines that almost reach that level of anguish; I really like the line about his thoughts playing foosball while he’s off bars of footballs. The last few lines get really sexual, but for some reason it doesn’t really bother me.
Bitch, bust that shit open like you landed knee-first
Let me stick my finger in it; what it smell like, birth?
If it smell like syrup you gon’ get this work
But if it smell like perch, gotta disperse
I’m a pervert wearin’ sherbert; take your baby mama, turn her
As a youngin’ mama should have handcuffed me to the furnace
I’m typically averse to overtly sexual lyricism like this, but for some reason I like it here. I think I enjoyed it here because it’s just so disgusting, and it kinda fits in with the dirty, fucked up aesthetic of the song. This is probably my favorite track up to this point on the record honestly. Both of the verses are great, and I love how grim the contributions from Paul White & Obongjayar are. It’s dope af. It’s followed by another major highlight for me called Savage Nomad. The production from Playa Haze is fucking awesome, and Danny fucking slaughtered that first verse.
Fuck school, stole the scales out of chemistry class
And made it all come back like memory lapse
I’m in that matte black ‘Lac, strap under the floor mat
A weather man it be, I predict the forecast
Shower any beat with the dirtiest vocab
This was the seventies, I’d be a savage nomad
Shirtless with a vest, stayin’ warm by burnin’ trash
Give a toe tag to a broke-ass who sold fast for slow cash
The instrumental break between the two verses is absolutely marvelous too. I think I like this track even more than the preceding one to be honest. The second verse is just as good, if not better than the first one.
Who you think you’re dealin’ with?
The flow Chinese arithmetic
Trippin’ if they get real, nasty like black licorice
Always on some different shit, your whole style is impotent
I ignore a whore like an email from LinkèdIn
I have no gripes with this song at all; I think it’s fucking awesome. The next song is called Best Life, which was the second single if I’m not mistaken.
I really fuck with the production on this track from Q-Tip, and the first verse is absolutely stellar. I love the autobiographical content about how drugs affected Danny’s upbringing as well.
War on drugs was a chess game
Was a pawn, guns drawn on my front lawn
Just a young nigga, starin’ down the corner
Checkin’ out the hustlers with the latest kicks on ’em
Know a nigga want, mama ain’t got it
Fuckin’ up in school, lyin’, what she know about it?
Something about the way Danny writes is just so vivid and captivating to me. I love how fucked up the opening couplet on this track is.
Came from the sewer where hot dogs got boiled
Right up in the same pot unc’ cooked the rock
I love the hook on this track too. The second verse isn’t quite as amazing to me as the first one, but overall the song is still fantastic to me. This shit is dope af. It’s followed by the title track, uknowhatimsayin¿
This is definitely the least interesting song on the album from a lyrical standpoint, but I still really like it. The two verses from Danny are pretty underwhelming since every other bar is just him saying “know what I’m sayin’?” What makes this song so enjoyable for me is the production from Paul White, along with the superb vocal performance from Obongjayar. I actually like his performance on this track more than that of Belly of the Beast. Even though I didn’t really get much out of Danny’s rapping on this song, it’s not like he ruined the track by any means. It’s just that he didn’t really add much to it in my opinion. This kinda feels more like an interlude than what I would’ve expected for the title track, but I still like it a lot. I think this is dope. The following song is called Negro Spiritual. This was probably the second most exciting song in the track listing due to the placement from Flying Lotus. According to Genius, Thundercat also contributed to this song, but I haven’t seen him credited anywhere else, so I’m not sure about that. Anyway, the song is thankfully just as good as I was hoping it’d be. The production is glorious, and Danny Brown murdered it. I even love the hook from JPEGMAFIA; it would’ve been cool to hear a verse from him, but I honestly don’t think he’d’ve been able to fuck with Danny’s performance here. I really like how Danny aggressively chants “YOU GON’ GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR” right before the first recital of the hook. He killed that second verse too.
It’s the microphone magician, make the rappers disappear
If I ain’t holler at you yet, then you had a good year
I’m in Bergdorf with my shirt off, tell your ho to take her skirt off
I get the head, then there’s nothin’ else to talk ’bout
I think this is probably the most uptempo song on the album, and I really love how aggressive Danny’s delivery here is. This shit is fire. The penultimate song is called Shine. This was the number one most exciting track for me because of the placements from Standing on the Corner & Paul White. The song did not disappoint at all; the beat is amazing. The first verse from Danny is stellar too; the Contra line is brilliant to me.
Life like a dice game, ain’t no casino
Street life, contra, ain’t no cheat code
Everyday on the line like a free throw
Shit weak, like the knees on D. Rose
The hook from Blood Orange isn’t amazing or anything, but I definitely like it. The second verse from Danny is great too.
It’s the plot all along
Push you down the wrong path, the statistics have shown
Everything that I known turned out to be lies
Found out when I was grown so I shared that light
This quatrain kinda reminded me of the earth-shattering “revelations” I had right before I was admitted to the psych ward at the beginning of 2018. I specifically remember saying shit like “my whole life is a lie.” Anyway, this is definitely one of the best songs on the album for me. It’s dope af. The final track is called Combat. I really like Q-Tip’s production here; the horns kinda remind me of Lost from Atrocity Exhibition. They also kinda remind me of the Cantina Band song from Star Wars lol. The first verse from Danny is cool despite a couple slightly corny lines here and there. The hook is very straightforward, but it serves its purpose well enough. The second verse was fire. The uncredited features from Q-Tip & Consequence didn’t really do much for me, but I love the final verse from Danny. He fucking killed that shit.
Sink or swim, look at him in the system
Just another nigga, one-way ticket to a prison
Tried to help, only hurt in the end
How the fuck ‘posed to take care your kids from the pen’?
Overall, I really like the song, but I’m mostly impressed from a lyrical standpoint. It’s not super impressive to me sonically, although I do like the production. I kinda wish the album ended on a more grandiose note, but this is still very good. The song is dope.
This album is amazing. It’s definitely my favorite Danny Brown project so far. However, for what it’s worth, Old would still be my favorite project from him if it was just Side A. I guess I kinda get why some people would say this isn’t as good as Atrocity Exhibition; that album is far more unique, and probably more memorable to most people as a result. This new project isn’t anywhere near as ambitious. I just think this one is far more consistent. Atrocity Exhibition had a couple tracks that I didn’t care for, but I thought every single song here was dope. As much as I love the wild, more experimental sound of AE, I was happy to hear this more traditional style. I can see someone like Benny the Butcher rapping over a lot of these beats. I feel like Danny really placed the majority of his attention on writing stellar verses rather than blowing people away with super weird beats, deliveries, and flows. I also don’t really think anyone should’ve been surprised by the sound here. As soon as I found out that Q-Tip was executive producing this album, I knew it’d sound nothing like Atrocity Exhibition. In fact, I’m surprised we even got anything as weird as Belly of the Beast or Shine. I really think Danny nailed this project. It’s just a super concise listen with fantastic writing and superb production across the board. I have no consistent gripes with it. This shit is dope af, and I’m glad I finally got around to listening to it.
Favorite Song: Negro Spiritual
Least Favorite Song: uknowhatimsayin¿
Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.