Danny Brown
XXX


4.5
superb

Review

by valrus USER (4 Reviews)
October 31st, 2011 | 2217 replies | 52,804 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Alternately over-the-top, terrifying, unhinged, disgusting, and exhilarating, sometimes all five at once, with appropriately oppressive production and even a story of sorts. A couple duds or painful tracks can't keep it from being an overwhelming success.

12 of 13 thought this review was well written

I first noticed Danny Brown in his guest verse on Das Racist's "Power," where he became the highlight of the song for me despite my prior strong preference for the DR duo over most any of their guests. It didn't take me long to discover that he had a new free mixtape out; only a little later I discovered it rivaled the "Power" verse in filthiness and excess; and then, well, it took several listens to realize how cohesive and ambitious it is for what could have been a toss-off.

XXX is, true to its name, an album of three parts: setup, Bacchanalian excess spiraling into derangement, comedown. Also true to its name, each of the three parts is somewhere between obscene and nihilistic, but Brown's unique sense of humor runs through it all and makes it more enjoyable than it might sound from my description thus far. And love it or hate it, Brown's voice is one-of-a-kind and more expressive than any other I've heard in my (admittedly somewhat limited) experience of hip hop.

Take the first track "XXX" as the intro and statement of intent, in which Brown makes it clear how much he has invested in the game when he bleats, "If this shit don't work, nigga, I failed at life!" Then the setup runs from "Die Like A Rockstar" to "I Will" and introduces our antihero, who consumes drugs of every stripe so avidly that he himself muses, "Experiment so much, it's a miracle I'm livin." Of course, this won't stop him from proclaiming his ability to spit fire on "Pac Blood" and his ability to give cunnilingus in "I Will," which is so thoroughly explicit and filthy that I'm not even going to try to excerpt it here. It's also probably the most romantic track on here, to give you an idea.

"Bruiser Brigade" announces the beginning of XXX's descent into madness. The beats get more abrasive ("Blunt after Blunt") or ominously sparse ("Adderall Admiral") and the lyrics more abusive and manic -- check the twisted glee with which Brown exclaims "These bitches suck my dick like it was moral incentive!!" on "Detroit 187" -- until, at the end of "Adderall Admiral", comes the foreboding line, "Rewind this and just smoke to it." Hear this album a few times and you'll recognize that what this means is, Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, because Brown's about to come down off the high he's been on, and you're coming along for the ride.

It's recognizable almost immediately in the slower tempo and mournful horns of "DNA," but even more in the huge change in Brown's voice. The first time I listened to this album, I thought it was a completely different guy rapping until "30," where... but I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't know for sure why Brown calls himself "the Hybrid," but the huge contrast here gives me a pretty strong suspicion. Suddenly, instead of--well, in addition to--bragging about his MCing and the amount of poon he gets, Brown's pontificating on the hereditary nature of his drug addiction. What does this portend? The terrifying "Nosebleeds" makes it clear that Brown's well aware of the dark side of his subject matter: "Every time she do it, she says this her last time... Sniffing till it drip, back of the class, blood running down her lips." All this is utterly sedate, with no trace of the mania that made "Die Like a Rockstar" so exhilarating; instead, it's nightmarish and chilling.

If "Nosebleeds" and "Party All The Time" show the consequences of living this way, "EWNESW" through "Scrap or Die" maybe make it clear how someone ends up there. Hint: having no hope for the future helps, as on "EWNESW": "I'm living in the city where the weak get swallowed / Belly of the beast, we don't care about tomorrow." And just when "Scrap or Die," with its beat halfway between jungle and industrial, sees our antihero at rock bottom, tearing out walls of abandoned buildings to sell the wiring for scrap (and using the proceeds for, you guessed it, drugs)...

"30" brings us full circle. Danny Brown signed to Fool's Gold! Everything is gnarly! Sure, he's imagining the cops finding him OD'd on prescription drugs, but right now he feels like Billy Corgan! In a church playing organ! Guess what bitch, he's coming back! Guess what bitch, he's coming back!!! Nowhere, even in the album's unhinged middle stretch, has Brown sounded this crazy, and honestly it makes me scared for his future, because I want him to live long enough to keep making more albums that are this fucking good. This thing is a crazy ride like no other album I've ever heard.


user ratings (554)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Will Robinson STAFF (4.5)
The soundtrack to hedonism...

Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (5)
"Danny. Party's over you gotta go man... Danny? Danny?!?"...


Comments:Add a Comment 
valrus
November 1st 2011



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Fuck, HTML tags. I failed at life

Sorry it's almost kinda sorta a track by track, but the sequencing was too integral to what I was trying to get at for me to approach it other than in order.

gabethepiratesquid
November 1st 2011



4521 Comments


Great review, cuz. Just might wanna fix that HTML, though. Pos'd.

valrus
November 1st 2011



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

n/m

gabethepiratesquid
November 1st 2011



4521 Comments


My Profile --> Edit My Reviews/Albums (on the left side below your picture and stuff)

valrus
November 1st 2011



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

thanks man

valrus
November 1st 2011



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

P.S. "Pac Blood" samples Fleet Foxes, I was so proud of myself when I noticed

Ire
November 1st 2011



41453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this was ok

gabethepiratesquid
November 1st 2011



4521 Comments


I'm trying to figure out what "I Will" samples, but the vocal sample is too short to think of it.

elephantREVOLUTION
November 1st 2011



2701 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i love this album. glad someone finally reviewed it

Digging: IDYLLS - Prayer For Terrene

lobby
November 1st 2011



1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

AK'S WITH BAYONETS

Dummit
November 1st 2011



333 Comments


i dug radio song, and the song he did with black milk, but i couldnt get into much else of his.

Jekub
November 1st 2011



213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is overrated

valrus
November 1st 2011



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

more like overhated

by you

gabethepiratesquid
November 1st 2011



4521 Comments


OHDAMN SON HE DID NOT JUST SAY THAT

Jekub
November 2nd 2011



213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oooh snap

Ire
November 2nd 2011



41453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol

lancebramsay
November 2nd 2011



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This album is definitely a trip, definitely one of my favorite hip hop albums of the year. I find that people are generally turned away by his voice without even giving him a chance. That said, review was very good though the 3 acts thing is a little bit of a stretch, I'd say this is more 2 acts. Anyways,

POS

valrus
November 2nd 2011



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks man, I think 2 acts is an equally valid interpretation and indeed that's how I heard it at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of seeing it as a 3-act structure; the first act (as I defined it here) seems much more conventional to my ears (with the possible exception of Lie4) than the second. Further, most reviews I'd seen describe it as an album in two parts, so I felt like I had a compelling yet different take on it this way. Plus I couldn't resist the triple-X/three-act congruity.

illmitch
November 3rd 2011



5429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album goes so ham

Tupik
November 3rd 2011



667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"his ability to give cunnilingus in "I Will," which is so thoroughly explicit and filthy that I'm not
even going to try to excerpt it here. It's also probably the most romantic track on here, to give you
an idea."

I lol'd

Nice review, I've only given this one spin so far, I'll have to listen to it again to give a final
rating



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