Danny Brown
Quaranta


3.7
great

Review

by Ben STAFF
November 24th, 2023 | 98 replies


Release Date: 11/17/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: XXXX

Quaranta lives and dies with its lyricism. When dream becomes job, friends become strangers, and aspects of yourself slip away, sacrificed to the climb: Brown rekindles all these demons, and more, in the bleakest birthday party, uh, ever? I say rekindles, for the insight provided on 40 is decidedly rear view mirror, looking backwards, previous, reflective. This isn’t the in-the-moment hedonism-cum-terror of an XXX or Atrocity Exhibition; it comes with more perspective, less fish trapped in bowl, more therapy session circa soul retrieval. Getting lost in artistry and the accompanying excesses is the core narrative, sprinkled with literalist musings on what music means to Brown, why he pays bills with poems, and how he has sought (and still struggles to) retain a sense of self (personal) and identity (creative) through life’s turbulence. It’s a genuinely fascinating curtain pull, abstraction and metaphor kicked to the curb in favour of blunt honesty and well worn wisdom.

Quaranta is less rewarding when its focus shifts elsewhere. As Brown reaches for his usual zane, sans contemplation, there’s an evident creative dissonance: a drop in nuance, and absence of snap. The bars on goofball “Dark Sword Angel” and meme-fuelled “Tantor” lack the unshakable charisma plus surefootedness that carried XXX, autopilot engaged in deference to the delicious snare claps and creamy guitar licks. Compare-contrast Bruiser Wolf’s quirky feature on “Y.B.P” - bouncing over the big-boing beat like toddler in a sweetshop - c.f. Danny’s fizz-free rhymes, lacking colour and contours, even if broadly serviceable and in line with their subject. I’ve less to bemoan on the near flawless opener-closer bookends, whose subdued beats and bars coalesce superbly, compounding in bright earnestness, the weight of their messaging improved by the slow, somber delivery thereof.

Quaranta is not what it says on the tin: it’s XXX’s spiritual successor, but sharing little of its scrappy, flailing essence; hot on the tails of SCARING THE HOES, yet decidedly opposite in aesthetic; aligned with the trad-rap-roots of its predecessor, uknowhatimsayin?, save that the rainbow-jazz hue is absent. None of this is criticism, really, just noteworthy, and emblematic of the artist Brown has always been, chameleonic and restless and himself, always. For at least one constant, see the beats: there’s cappuccino foam drum bubbles on “Ain’t My Concern”, eerie piano plink-plinks on gentrification waltz, “Jenn’s Terrific Vacation”, and walk-into-blazing-sun guitar flickers on slow burn “Hanami”; they’re all are fire, understated, earthy, and brilliant.

Quaranta is a mixed bag, as (perhaps) it should be. Danny opens up the trunk, sifting through, letting thoughts tumble out as they will, and not giving an overly large number of fucks re the repercussions. That isn’t to suggest a lack of polish, but a healthy irreverence for expectation/reception, of refusing to play to the gallery, of doing his thing, of simply being. Though occasionally wallowing, there’s a self-assuredness here, a comfort in one’s skin, that’s refreshing, and relieving, given how close to the edge this ship has teetered over the years. As entertainment via soundwaves, it occasionally sags-lags-drags, but for a thoughtful tome on patient self-betterment, you couldn’t ask for much more.



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user ratings (194)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2023


9752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wrote this on my phone while my train was delayed like an hour cc typo checks etc always appreciated sorry this is so late

newsteamchannel4
November 24th 2023


113 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Good review but, to be direct, it does feel rushed. Last paragraph could use some tightening, and slap a dash between “well” and “worn” in the last line of paragraph 1. Also, my dumbass can’t parse what you’re trying to say with “c.f. danny brown” when talking about YBP.



Better than the featured review on RYM, that shit reads like A.I.. I like your flow.

Shemson
November 24th 2023


4156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agree with the main point here definitely.

Even though I loved Scaring The Hoes, it’s when Danny is contemplative and using his low pitch ‘normal’ voice where this album really shines.

unclereich
November 24th 2023


11883 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the review, feels somewhere between a 3-3.5. Enjoy the mellow Danny quite a bit, just wish it had a track or two more that really gripped me

ConcubinaryCode
November 24th 2023


7494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this is more like the back half of xxx and StH's was the front half. Not his best obviously but still a great release.

JayEnder
November 24th 2023


19150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Finally a review! Nice one Ben.



Album is awesome, definitely an easy third place next to Atrocity and XXX. The more serious approach here certainly paid off. Feels like a very mature record that shows how much Danny has grown over the last decade. Despite that, Tantor and Dark Sword Angel are the only songs on here with the squawkz and they're probably my favs lol



Jenn's Terrific Vacation too

onionbubs
November 24th 2023


19874 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this bangs. his best in a long time but squak danny isnt really my thing nowadays

bighubbabuddha
November 24th 2023


401 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good but not great, this just mumbles and bumbles along

rufinthefury
November 24th 2023


3943 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is a good mature rap album. It doesnt start the best but the second half really picks up. Pretty much Jenn's Terrific Vacation down is awesome, Celibate being the standout of the whole thing.



Cool to hear normal voice Danny for a whole project and the mellow nature was totally fine with me. If I want spastic Danny Brown I just can play Scaring the Hoes ya know

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2023


18791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

super disappointed by this, especially after how much i loved Scaring the Hoes. Mellow Danny isn't my problem here, a lot of the beats are just trash

JayEnder
November 24th 2023


19150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nah the beats on here are great for the most part. Y.B.P. being the only exception lol

ConcubinaryCode
November 24th 2023


7494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The beats are def more subdued. He went all out for AE and it put him in debt because of it. I think that's def a factor for him on his choice of beats on his newer material if it isnt a collab.im still not sold on the blown out sound of StH's either fwiw

Anthracks
November 24th 2023


7979 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

a lot of people hyped this up way too much. this is one of the most intimate rap albums i've heard

unclereich
November 24th 2023


11883 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lyrics for me were hit or miss.

onionbubs
November 24th 2023


19874 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this smokes scaring the hoes lol

unclereich
November 25th 2023


11883 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[2]

botb
November 25th 2023


17560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You are fucking nuts if you think the production on this is bad

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2023


18791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Nah the beats on here are great for the most part. Y.B.P. being the only exception lol"



Jenn's Terrific Vacation is ridiculously bad and a lot of others are just boring

botb
November 25th 2023


17560 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lmao that’s like one of the coolest ones

Hawks
November 25th 2023


84777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So much better than the last album so ahrd.



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