Even before the interview starts with Danny Brown, his publicist emails a list of questions that shouldnt or, shall we say, wont be asked.
Dont ask about 50 Cents G-Unit Records, which Brown was supposedly going to sign with. (Brown later claimed it didnt happen because 50 didnt like that he wore skinny jeans.) Dont talk to him about drinking lean (promethazine/codeine syrup) or any other narcotics Brown could possibly be addicted to. Dont bring up the apparent meltdown he had on Twitter recently, where the obviously fed-up Brown went off on artists he couldnt contact, horrible airplane flights and sliding deeper and deeper into depression. And certainly dont bring up the now-infamous incident in Minneapolis last year, where a female concertgoer was intimate with Brown while he was performing onstage. (Of course, theres video online.)
Its not that Brown refuses to answer these questions. Its just hes tired of answering these questions. I mean, its stuff that dont matter, says Brown, on the phone from New York. Or its just stuff thats just been talked about for so long. Its, like, you know how many times Ive answered the same questions the same way?
I mean, like every time a person ask me about the 50 Cent thing. Its just like, How many times? (They ask) Is it true that he didnt sign you because of your jeans? I mean, yeah what else you want me to say about it? And, then, it gets to start to look negative in some type of way, when theres nothing negative about it. So, I would rather you didnt bring anything negative up.
Brown must have seen all this coming. The 33-year-old Detroit-born-and-based rapper, wholl be performing a sold-out show at Cats Cradle in Carrboro Saturday, has been one of the more outrageous, eccentric MCs to come along in quite some time. Ever since he broke out with his 2011 sophomore album XXX, where Brown took an extreme live-til-I-die stance, mostly rapping about rampant drug use, hedonistic-to-the-point-of-nihilistic partying and being an out-of-control rock star all done in that nasal, wise-guy delivery of his people have been keeping tabs on him (and his trademark lack of front teeth).
But even with all the press Brown has been known to get, he would like to get to the music once in a while. His latest release, Old, definitely has some music worth talking about. Released last fall, Old has Brown working with many producers, including A-Trak, Oh No and Scottish EDM musician Rustie, to make an album with more introspection and soul-searching.
With XXX, it really wasnt about self-reflecting, you know, he says. It was about doing. And Old is about just reflecting on all of that, you know. Old is like the hangover, kind of, like youre thinking about everything.
Brown also appears to rep Detroit to the fullest on Old. Even though he has given verbal props to his hometown and has teamed up with fellow Motor City MCs before, Brown creates tunes that pay tribute to most of the music that came out of that town and influenced him.
Thats why theres a lot of electronic stuff in there. too, he says, referring to Detroits techno scene. Theres really a lot of garage rock, Jack White-esque influence things, too. Thats what I learned from them, you know, but still pretty much (laid) the whole groundwork in it, like, a Motown would, you know. Like, I learned from all of that and put all of that in a blender.
So even with all the wild and wacky stuff you hear and read about Danny Brown, keep in mind that dude is still an artist.
I take music serious, he says. I live through it ... Ive been living my whole life through it, you know, and Im gonna die for it. So, its what it is.