Danny Brown is one of the most bizarre and outlandish rappers of the 2010s, and he always drops projects that take things to the next level, especially with his previous album, Atrocity Exhibition, being one of the best hip-hop albums of 2016. 3 years later, after making a film appearance in White Boy Rick and having his own Viceland series, Danny’s House, he returns with his fifth studio album: uknowwhatimsayin¿
Hearing about this album from Danny himself, it was going to be a big deal considering who was the main executive producer: the legend himself, Q-Tip. Additionally, we did get notice of other production credits from people like his boy Paul White (who did the majority of Atrocity Exhibition), JPEGMafia, and Flying Lotus & Thundercat among others, and the features he got are lean and mean, including Peggy himself, Obongjayar, and even Run the Jewels and Blood Orange? Not to mention this was released the week of my birthday (the day after, to be precise), so I was very much looking forward to this album.
First off, this album is a completely different beast from his last album. Whereas Atrocity Exhibition was more explosive, head-pounding, and manic, uknowwhatimsayin¿ has a laid-back touch to it, which makes sense considering Q-Tip’s involvement, but this isn’t that far off from what we know Danny for. He still has a good ear for experimental production and can rap his ass off overtop that insane production. The storytelling in his rapping still has some bite in terms of how far he came from his hey-day, and as he gets older and more experienced in the game, he still retains that manic self but more relaxed. Take for example the second single released, “Best Life,” which has an upbeat/soulful instrumental, and he raps about his upbringing and living a full satisfied life, looking at the past few years after AE and how Danny cleaned up since then.
“Change Up” has Paul White on the production with that weird passionate drum work and Danny’s storytelling/rapping complimented that heavily, and it continues strong with “Theme Song” and that scintillating violin melody along with A$AP Ferg doing ad-libs (UH!! YEAH!!) and these choice lyrics:
You can act stupid if you want to
Never play by the rules, do just what I want to
Came up in this bitch tongue out without a front tooth
Now who they say is number one influencer, he number two (Yeah)
Yeah, he dance good, but guess where he got the moves?
But compared to me, look like he wear two left shoes (Uh)
But, nigga, you ain’t scorin’, not on me
Wrote this one on one knee, R.I.P. to P (Damn)
Taught me to keep it real, stand on my own (Yeah)
If I got you, rock a nigga brain with his nose bone
On those last couple of bars, the R.I.P. to P is a reference towards late rapper Prodigy from Mobb Deep, and the song also interpolates their classic track “Shook Ones, Part II.” Now let’s get to the JPEGMafia-related songs: first there’s “3 Tears,” which he produced and features guest bars from Run The Jewels, and all 3 snapped on that song, especially El-P and Killer Mike.
Danny, it’s dangerous, Run The Jewels is chaos in arrangements
Shit’ll give your fuckface a facelift
Poppa did the Triple Lindsy flip when the ‘caine hit
Mama never met a bottle that she couldn’t drain quick (Ayy)
Stuck in a rude mood, the fuck shit approaches
Like we believe in nothin’ Lebowski (Yes, Lebowski), there’s no motive
I babble on, tryna get bags like, “Fuck all of ’em”
Death is on my couch and I’m telling’ him jokes, stallin’ him
Plus, I offer one of my smokes, he smoked all of ’em (Fuck, man)
True doom, eat up your crew, like MM… FOOD
Would you steal for me, nigga?
If it’s goddamn mine
Would you kill for me, nigga?
Bitch, you out your goddamn mind
And that’s goddamn right, I’m goddamn Mike
Win in the end like Tina did goddamn Ike
As for the other song “Negro Spiritual,” JPEGMafia is only contributing to the hook, and yes I got confused when I thought I was hearing Pharrell on there but of course, the other spotlight is the production of Flying Lotus and Thundercat on that bass. “Shine” has some good bars coming from Brown along with guest vocalist Blood Orange on the hook and outro with this virtuous production.
Ride past all the kids, yellin’ out, “Bingo”
Talk a good game, Trey Wingo
Speak in code so nobody know the lingo
Life like a dice game, ain’t no casino
Street life, contra, ain’t no cheat code
Everyday on the line like a free throw
Shit weak, like the knees on D. Rose
I was taught, “Look out for your people”
Meet Heaven and you gotta know evil
This album may not be the dynamic, unstoppable force of pure chaos that was Atrocity Exhibition, but that doesn’t make this a lesser album. It is still one of the best rap albums to come out this year, and Danny Brown continues to drop some dope rhymes and good storytelling bars.
Final Verdict: Buy it. This album is dope. uknowwhatimsayin¿
uknowwhatimsayin¿ is on Warp Records and is available on CD, digital download and streaming services.