Danny Brown: uknowhatimsayin¿ review – A stylistic switcheroo

Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 06:30



Danny Brown


Hip-Hop & Rap

Casual fans will know Danny Brown from the industrial rattle’n’ clank bangers that enter listeners’ brains via pneumatic drill. Making chaos art with hallucinogens in its veins, Brown has been a man apart in hip-hop.

But a change can sometimes do you good and uknowhatimsayin¿ is a stylistic switcheroo that brings Brown consistently back to more traditional hip-hop forms for the first time since 2011 album XXX.

The three cuts produced by Q-Tip (who also serves as executive producer) are highlights: Best Life is built on a sample of Tommy McGee’s cheerful soul tune To Make You Happy, forming an interesting contrast to Brown’s warped vocal style and descriptions of a life hard lived.

The eccentric grooves of Dirty Laundry sees the Detroit star airing out sleazy sex tales – proof that orchestral changes haven’t sapped his oddball personality – while Combat finds Q-Tip harnessing a scratchy horn riff for a quirky slice of jazz rap.

These high points are marred by occasional awkward bits – the title track’s verse structure sees Brown punctuate every line with “You know what I’m saying?” to the point where it starts to annoy; and the chugging beat and surprisingly lacklustre flows of Run the Jewels collaboration 3 Tearz means the track doesn’t equal the sum of its parts.

But uknowhatimsayin¿ shows us that, cast in a different light, one of rap’s true individualists is no less captivating.