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Listening Session: Danny Brown at Spotify

Danny Brown is an artist who refuses to be confined by style, diction, impression or precedents.

Danny Brown

On Monday night, we went to Danny Brown’s exclusive listening party for his new album Old at the new Spotify office in New York City. For about an hour, fellow attendees discoursed with each other about God knows what, chewed on unlimited pizzas, sipped cold brews and awaited the man of the night to appear and that he did. Before he thanked us for coming, in orderly fashion, DJ A-Trak (Danny Brown’s label owner and one of the most influential Canadian DJs in the music business today) spoke highly of his talent, originality and tenacity and emphatically reminded us why we were all gathered in the name of Danny.

Danny Brown's Old album cover

Here Are Some Words from A-Trak about Danny Brown:

So, we signed Danny [Brown] a little over two years ago and it was a great pleasure to see this project come to completion. His first official commercially released album out next week”, the crowd cheered. A-Trak continued, “Reflecting on how Danny Brown is modest on the whole project — the one thing that really comes to mind for me is — Danny Brown is one of one. There’s no other Danny Brown’s. He can’t be duplicated and be imitated. There’ll only ever be one Danny Brown and how we’ve known since the very first day we met him that he’ll go down to history books as one of Hip-Hop’s most iconic, memorable artists. To us, Danny — even just his voice, his appearance but obviously much more, his whole character… it falls into the lineage of the ODBs, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Eazy-E, even B-Real, dudes like that that you know that in ten years, you’re still going to want to hear their voices.”

“Because there’s only one of them,” he emphatically added. “and that’s why Danny didn’t need to reach or do something or make records like other people’s records sound [or whatever it is] and for us, when we signed him what was important was hopefully to give him that comfort level, that sort of elbow room to just do him and do what he does and what was amazing was to actually see Danny become Danny, in a sense. Because when we signed him, he was just getting rid of the cornrows,” the crowd laughs.

“The first time I actually met him person, he had just cut the side of his hair and he was wearing like a dashiki or something and the next thing you know, he’s wearing skinny white jeans and all this stuff. He became the Danny we know now. We saw that happen. He had just started rapping in that voice and we saw that sort of Frankenstein transformation and we really hoped that the environment that we fostered for him allowed him to become what we saw as potential before we even met him for the first time and it’s incredible to work with an artist that just makes such original and inspired music on their own. He knows what music he wants, he knows — I don’t even know where he finds his beats,” A-Trak proclaimed.

“It’s incredible. He’ll just send us these batch of songs and they sound like nothing else. He sounds like no one else and it’s also part of the reason why we never felt like we needed to reach or follow a formula, and that’s sort of the last thing I want to say.”

“The first time we met Danny, we saw eye to eye right away with this idea that we let people come to us. We don’t go and chase things. Actually, I remember — to be fair — sending Danny Brown’s music to some journalists who are in attendance today. Some responded faster than others. I knew right away that he was going to be that dude. You know, and some people posted it. We went to Shade45 and they really gave us early looks,” he recalled as he shouted out a DJ on the station.

“Some dudes took a year to come around, but now, I think everyone’s paying attention. The whole rap world is listening to this album right now. This is the album of the year for us, for rap music, for Hip-Hop, and we’re thrilled to stand behind such an original artist: Danny Brown, there’s no one like him and the album’s incredible. It’s a classic. Thank you.

Every cheered and clapped like we were at a baseball game. Old features Purity Ring, ScHoolboy Q, Freddie Gibbs on the A side and English MC and producer Scrufizzer, Ab-Soul, A$AP Rocky, ZelooperZ, and Charli XCX on the B side.

Thank you everybody for coming out,” said Danny Brown as he charmed us with his famous laugh. “Well, first off, I would like to say thank you to Fool’s Gold because without these guys I wouldn’t be able to take two years to make an album like this because they understand music and it’s not about money, it’s not about a popularity contest. It’s all about the genre of Hip-Hop music. This music has only existed for not more than 40 years, you know what I’m saying, so it’s still some new shit at the end of the day so we can still be progressive and push shit forward [because at the end of the day] if we let it continue to be what it is right now, it’s gon’ to get stuck, it’s gon’ get real stagnant and it’s really fucking just humbling for me to just see people really accepting somebody like me in this culture, somebody who wanna do what they wanna do and not be caught up because there was a time in my life where I just felt like I had to rap about selling drugs. I had to rap about shooting niggas and all of that bullshit just for my homeboys to listen to that shit, you know what I’m saying? And now, I am at a time in my life where I just rap about what I’ve been through and what I did. So, with this album, it’s just pretty much — I just wanted to let people to know where I came from and where I’m trying to go in the future in my life and I guess that’s Old because at the end of the day, everything becomes old, everything becomes new and that’s life in general, and that’s why I named it that. I guess it’s just a new beginning for me with my old past. So, that’s Old. Thank you guys for coming out and I hope you enjoy the rest of this album.

And that, we did. This album showcases Danny’s past and present styles, satisfying new and old, loyal fans. Great option.

Currently, you can stream Danny Brown’s album on Spotify and preorder it on iTunes. Old will be available in-stores and available on all digital platforms on October 8. Support him. According to Fool’s Gold Records, “yes there will be vinyl too… stay tuned for a deluxe edition of the album on wax later this Fall.”


GrungeCake

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is part of the Complex Day Ones, an exclusive community to help make the Complex experiences even better.