Danny Brown brings something to hip hop music that no one else could and that’s true variety. He is already well known for his unique delivery and ability to rap on pretty much any beat. This new album, Atrocity Exhibition, is equally as challenging as what he has released before, but the main focus is on Brown as an artist. The result is one of the most captivating releases of the year so far. One that takes you deep into the psyche of the most interesting man in rap music right now.
Brown’s first album, XXX, was a visceral introduction to his unprecedented style; the follow-up, Old, was somewhat delivered in response to people wanting to hear the ‘old’ mixtape era Danny again; Atrocity Exhibition sounds like the album he has always wanted and needed to make. It is undoubtedly his most encompassing and enthralling work to date. His eclectic taste in music and wide range of influences are represented like never before.
Anyone who is even somewhat familiar with Brown will know that he doesn’t shy away from detailing his drug problems. Where XXX was fuelled by MDMA and prescription drugs, cocaine is the blatant drug of choice explored on Atrocity Exhibition. There are more than a few direct references to it. Some are just simple rhymes slipped in here and there, others detail a blatant problem. He doesn’t mind detailing his lowest points, preferring to give you a look at the harsh realities of the substance rather than a glamorous view
The production is the album’s not so secret weapon. There’s a vast representation of styles on display by various producers, but most importantly each track flows seamlessly despite drastic changes in style, shaping the album’s rough-around-the-edges aesthetic. Every facet of hip hop and beyond is touched upon, but the buck doesn’t stop there. ‘Downward Spiral’, ‘Ain’t It Funny’ and ‘Dance In The Water’ are just three examples of tracks that couldn’t have been created by anyone except for Danny Brown.
Atrocity Exhibition is very dense, yet it manages keeps you on your toes. It constantly takes unexpected turns that leave you with no option but to listen with intent. It defies any expectations and goes places that most wouldn’t dare. A lot of hip hop today is a carbon copy of something else, whereas Brown has a clear understanding of the importance of originality and songwriting. If this album makes a statement, it’s that if you think you’ve figured out Danny Brown already, you’re very wrong.