By Bailey Riley
Danny Brown has been in the rap game for over a decade, but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of him. Straying from mainstream music for his entire career, Danny has carved out a niche fanbase that looks to him for an experimental sound that he seems to reinvent with each album. Coming off of Atrocity Exhibition, an album filled with dark, moody beats mixed with themes about drug abuse, sex and violence, many fans were wondering where Danny could go next? How would he be able to top what many consider to be the highest point in his career?
‘uknowwhatimsayin’ isn’t an album that necessarily tops Atrocity or pushes into wild new territory but instead works to cement Danny’s newfound place as a rap veteran while providing an accessible entry point for anyone interested in his discography.
‘uknowwhatimsayin’ starts off with the introspective Change Up, which starts the album on a high note. In the track Danny iterates that he would “Never look back, I would never change up”. This combined with the entire track highlights Danny’s belief to keep moving forward in his own way and that he would never change his artistic vision, even if it means he still has to worry about the rent being due. This concept of staying true to oneself is repeated throughout the album and gives the listener a look into Danny’s mindstate in relation to his career and the way in which he perceives the newest generation of rappers.
Danny has never been afraid of differing from the mainstream sound and with this record it’s no different, but instead of jumping into heavy experimental sounds, he opts for a more classic approach to the records sound. The album is executive produced by Q-Tip, known for being part of the influential A Tribe Called Quest, and his influence can be heard throughout the entire albums 90s hip-hop inspired sound. Unlike his previous record, Atrocity Exhibition, this album has no obvious overarching theme to it but instead seems to be act as a victory lap over his long-lasting career. Danny still has something to say though, even if it is not as in depth or interesting as previous records.
While the album has a few lows in its middle, the highpoints are strong enough to almost entirely negate these lows. These highs include the track 3 Tearz, which features Run The Jewels who work with Danny to create a heavily lyrical song that delivers some of the best rapping in any hip-hop release from this year. Another favourite of mine is Negro Spiritual featuring Jpegmafia, a song that sounds like it comes straight out of the early 2000s due to its Neptunes inspired beat and Jpeg doing an amazing Pharrel influenced hook that seems to worm its way into your head.
It took me a few listens to start fully enjoying the album, but that’s not unusual for a Danny Brown project, the man always create a package that takes time to unpack and completely understand. This is one of the quirks of being experimental and not adhering to the mainstream, most listeners won’t give the album the time that I have but instead will simply dismiss it for being different. My only qualm with the album is that I believe it would have benefited from a stronger midpoint, but a few average tracks don’t entirely negate an otherwise exceptional record that is chock full of amazing production and rapping, that combined with an inspired artistic vision, delivers a worthwhile addition to Danny’s already amazing discography. I would personally rate this album an 8.5/10.Listen to the album for yourself and let us know what you think!