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Danny Brown – “OLD” Album Review

“We want the old Danny Brown back.”  This is a theme that you hear throughout your listen of Danny Brown’s long awaited album “OLD.”  If you follow Danny on twitter, amidst all of the sexual back and forth between him and his quite massive female fan base, you see a few tweets from die-hard fans saying variations of “We want that Hybrid Danny Brown back.”  For those who are unaware, The Hybrid was Danny’s debut album that dropped back in 2010.  This album was very gritty, filled with drug tales, punchlines and a more, sedated, version of the Danny we know now.  A lot of his (male) fan base came from that era, i.e. “the old Danny Brown.”  XXX was the album that came before OLD, which is more of a Danny experimenting with sounds; a sign of what was to come (insert ecstasy filled, sex romps and wild ass hair here).  And now we have OLD, the response to “We want the old Danny Brown back.”  The question is, do we get that Danny Brown back, or not ?

Presentation

When you drop a concept album, especially one that revolves around duality and/or the growth of an artist, it can easily go very wrong and come off as extremely corny.  OLD, thankfully, shines where many albums of made in this style have failed.  From the album artwork, which reminds me of a black Dorian Grey off a molly, to the Side A/Side B old Danny Brown/new Danny Brown set up of the album, Danny was able to take a somewhat overused concept and make it fresh and exciting.  The album plays like an epic coming of age story, where it seems Danny touches on aspects of all of his “former selves,” tracks draw from as far back as Detroit State Of Mind 4 to the current version of Danny Brown.  Another thing that I feel like flew under the radar with OLD is the storyline within the album.  OLD details the story of the life of Danny Brown, from drug dealing, struggling rapper getting “domed up by crackheads” to the high fashion wearing, molly popping, style, sex (you can read my article on that here) and music icon he is now.  If you aren’t paying attention while listening to it you’d probably miss this storyline, but we haven’t gotten a hip-hop album this well thought out since GKMC.

Simply put, the production on OLD is no less than spectacular.  Danny arguably put together his best production team he’s ever had, with beats from notable names such as long time collaborator and Bruiser SKYWLKR, Paul White, Oh No, Darq E Freaker, BBNG and A-Trak.

Songwriting

The songwriting on OLD is one of the hardest things to measure on this album.  Because of the albums two different moods, one side is heavily lyrical and the other is less lyrical but more exciting and fun.  There are many standout verses in the first half of OLD, and if you really loved Detroit State of Mind/Hybrid Danny you’ll love the first half.  The second half is more of the newer Danny, which is less about punches and one-liners and more about the party.  That being said, there aren’t any “weak” Danny verses on OLD.  The same can't be said about most of the guest verses on here.   Freddie Gibbs and British MC Scrufizzer had amazing verses, but other than that the guest verses from big name rappers ASAP Rocky, Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q were lacking, at best.

Production

Simply put, the production on OLD is no less than spectacular.  Danny arguably put together his best production team he’s ever had, with beats from notable names such as long time collaborator and Bruiser SKYWLKR, Paul White, Oh No, Darq E Freaker, BBNG and A-Trak.  The stand out here is definitely SKYWLKR, who delivered some of his best production for OLD, with “Dip,” “Dubstep” and “Kush Coma” being some of the most memorable production on the album.  Paul White’s rendition of the OutKast classic “Return of The G” for Danny’s “The Return” with Freddie Gibbs is arguably the best production on the album.  Danny has a great ear for picking beats, and while some of them I may not have liked completely, he always sounds right at home on every song.

Cohesion

Cohesion on OLD is another hard concept to grasp because of the two-sidedness of the album.  Each half of the album flows wonderfully.   The transition between the two halves was also very well done.  However, unless you are in the mood for a schizophrenic rollercoaster ride while going in and out of ecstasy trips, I wouldn’t recommend putting this album on shuffle.

Substance

I really, really want to say that this album has substance, because in spurts, it does.  But there also are a lot of typical drugged out raps about sexcapades, partying and all around carefree living.  While I did enjoy the albums substance and lack of substance, I wouldn't call OLD and album full of substance.

Performance

Danny Brown absolutely did his thing on OLD from a performance standpoint.  Danny Brown has always been a top tier performer, both on his albums and during his live performances.  OLD is everything you'd want from Danny Brown from a performance standpoint.  His personality and flair shine from start to finish.  Even if you don't like his music, it is hard not to be entertained by this album.  I for one thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album multiple times from start to finish.