After hitting rock bottom, Danny Brown is clean and fired up for the future

today24/01/2024 2

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The triumph over his own demons started at the top of 2023 off the back of a divorce, the dismal dystopia of COVID-19, and two years making music in isolation fuelled by a smorgasbord of drugs. Hit by a final blow, Danny couldn’t help out with funds for his aunt’s funeral because he’d frittered away all his money getting fucked up, nor could he afford to get clean. By spring, Danny toasted his birthday with an apology mid-set at SXSW. surrounded by swarms of supportive, sweat-soaked fans, and an announcement that he was performing the show to pay for rehab and changing his tune.

“At the end of the day, I’m 42 years old, sitting around smoking blunts all day, and getting drunk is getting old,” he said on stage. “Y’all have y’all fun but shit could get dark. I’m going to get help.”

He added: “I made so many songs about doing drugs … sometimes I feel bad about that shit … if I fucked your life up, I’m sorry.”

Danny Brown is an audacious storyteller and one of the most distinctive voices in rap. His strangled yap and abrasive honk have been lauded by critics, fellow artists and the hip hop avant-garde, alongside his dexterity to perform lyrical acrobatics over a range of beats and genres so wildly obscure and complex that he could spit bars over the sound of a washing machine.

When it comes to chemically waved vernacular, Danny has waxed maniacal about drugs since he broke into public consciousness in 2010 alongside G-Unit rapper Tony Yayo in their marijuana mixtape ‘Hawaiian Snow’. He penned visceral verses about trap house scenarios, rapped about crack heroin, ecstasy, acid, shrooms, codeine, promethazine, morphine, and called himself the ‘Adderall Admiral’. His critically acclaimed breakthrough album ‘XXX’ was a nod to his 30s, as much as an homage to Xanax, with accompanying artwork depicting a girl with a pill on her tongue.

Along the way Danny’s weaved his own blend of horrorcore with his signature humour while dropping lyrical hints that he was haunted by his habits. He’s confessed about suicidal thoughts, claustrophobic comedowns, traumatising come-ups, and battling rock bottom, reeling off the undignified fate he expected to meet, invoking Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis and others. “Experimented so much it’s a miracle I’m livin’” he spits on ‘Die Like a Rockstar’. The revered hip hop blog Passion of the Weiss voted ‘XXX’ the sixth best album of 2010 and empathetically descibed it as “an uncomfortably honest self-portrait made even more remarkable by the fact that Danny Brown is alive to tell the story”.

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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