Danny Brown - Old (Review)

Danny Brown - Old

"Old" is the third studio album by Detroit, MI emcee Danny Brown. The album features guest appearances from Freddie Gibbs, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and others and production from Paul White, Skywlkr, Oh No and others. It is set to be released on October 8, 2013 via Fools Gold Records.


1) Side A (Old) - The first song on the album has a somewhat ominous instrumental, provided by Paul White, that is full of dark synths and head-nodding drums. The beat is dope as hell and Danny Brown rips it, rapping about how people always want that "old Danny Brown" back instead of supporting him as he experiments with new styles and tries new things. This shit is fire and is a dope way to kick off the album.

2) The Return (featuring Freddie Gibbs) - This song features another ill Paul White instrumental, this time with some smooth synths, ethereal vocal samples and sitars (of all things). Danny Brown and Freddie Gibbs both come through and body it, kicking some violent street rhymes incorporating excerpts from Outkast's "Return of the 'G'" throughout the song. Actually, I think I remember reading somewhere that Danny said that this song was like a pseudo-sequel to "Return of the 'G'". Either way, this shit is dope.

3) 25 Bucks (featuring Purity Ring) - Corin Roddikk comes through with a crazy instrumental that is probably my favorite on the album so far. The beat has more sinister keyboards and an eerie backing sample that give it a gloomy feel. The instrumental is atmospheric and Danny sounds great over it, kicking some stories about people grindin' for their money and living in poverty while Purity Ring provides a nice chorus to tie it all together. I'm feelin' this track. Very dope.

4) Wonderbread - Paul White returns, this time with a more experimental instrumental with some eccentric keyboards and resonant electric guitars. The beat is out there, but Danny Brown sounds right at home over it, changing up his delivery to a more maniacal flow and spitting some humorous street stories. This isn't bad, but it's not my favorite on here so far.

5) Gremlins - Gangrene producer Oh No stops by and delivers another darker synth instrumental with some soft distorted guitars and vocals over head-nodding drums. I'm really feelin' the beats on this album so far and this track is no exception. Lyrically Danny Brown is on point as well, kicking some more violent and depressing street stories about life on the block. Very nice.

6) Dope Fiend Rental (featuring Schoolboy Q) - Now this is dope. Skywlkr comes through with a hard-ass instrumental with a chopped up vocal sample and electric guitars that are full of a furious energy. The beat is banging and both emcees rip it, spitting some amusing sex raps in their trademark deranged flows. Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q have some great chemistry together, with the former sounding like he would be right at home signed to TDE. This track is fire.

7) Torture - Oh No is back, this time with a slower instrumental with an foreboding vocal sample over boom-bap-ish drums. Danny Brown gets darker lyrically on here as well, rapping about all the bad shit he has seen during his life and the psychological effects it has had on him since.
"I feel like a prisoner of war
Reacting sporadically to what the mind absorb
Probably need a shrink, can't get a wink
So I smoke a lot of Kush and pop a Xanax to sleep"
Dope.

8) Lonely - In a sharp change from the previous song, this track has an almost lighthearted guitar riff and vocals over upbeat drums. The beat, by Paul White, is pretty ill and Danny comes correct over it, kicking some depressing and drug influenced rhymes that contrast with the carefree feel of the beat. Not bad.

9) Clean Up - The beat on this track, also courtesy of Paul White, has a laid-back alternative rock feel to it, with a subdued guitar and distorted vocal sample over stomping drums. Lyrically Danny rips it and spits some introspective rhymes about his drug habits and how he needs to clean up before he loses everything.
"I know it ain’t right, but in this state I don’t care
A whole week done went past, I ain't gone no where
Hotel rooms crushing pills and menus
Daughter sending me messages saying 'Daddy I miss you'
But in this condition I don’t think she need to see me
Ain’t slept in four days and I’m smelling like seaweed
Problems in my past haunt my future and the present
Escaping from reality got me missing my blessings"
The beat is dope and the lyrics are thoughtful. Very nice.

10) Red 2 Go - Oh No returns with another head-nodding instrumental, this time with a smooth backing sample over frantic congo drums. Danny Brown reverts to his zanier style and voice on here and sounds pretty good over the beat. Not bad, but not really a standout for me.

11) Side B (Dope Song) - This song builds upon the restrained craziness of the previous song and features Danny Brown kicking some forgettable rhymes over an Rustie instrumental that seemed like it was going to be quite ill before turning into a somewhat generic trap beat. It's not terrible, but it's far from my favorite on the album. I have a feeling this second half of the album is where Danny is really going to let loose.

12) Dubstep (featuring Scrufizzer) - Now this is a little better. Keeping in line with the title the song, Skywlkr returns with an EDM/Dubstep-ish instrumental for Danny Brown and guest Scrufizzer to get busy over. Being a fan of EDM, I'm feelin' the spaced-out beat on here and both emcees do their thing, especially Scrufizzer who's rapid-fire flow provides for the best verse on the song. The lyrics are nothing special, but I'm feelin' this one.

13) Dip - This was one of the singles released from the album and it's ok. The beat, also provided by Skywlkr, is another energetic instrumental that is similar in feel and tempo to the previous song. Lyrically this is just Danny Brown at his craziest, spitting a plethora of humorous drug-inspired bars in an out-of-control style.
"Like Lieutenant Dan I'm rollin'
Back to back I keep on smokin'
Eyes keep shakin' and I can't stay focused
I don't give a fuck if you niggas ain't noticed"
This is ok for what it is, but there are better songs on here. I do like the fact that Danny is showing a wide range of styles on the album though.



14) Smokin & Drinkin - Well Side B has definitely been more wild than Side A so far. The beat on this track, courtesy of A-Trak & JMIKE, is another effects-heavy instrumental with more driving keyboards and synths over trunk-rattling bass. The instrumental is fierce and the subject matter of the song is self-explanatory. Not bad, but not great.

15) Break It (Go) - Rustie returns with another breakneck synth instrumental that is very similar to the beat on the previous song. Danny Brown hasn't really been saying much on these past few songs since they are all just club tracks, but that's what he is going for on this half of the album. 

16) Handstand - This song is yet another club banger, this time over an erratic Darq E. Freaker instrumental with more wild synths and booming 808's. Lyrically, though, this song is quite dirty as Danny spits some hilariously entertaining sex rhymes over the beat.

17) Way Up Here (featuring Ab-Soul) - These beats just keep getting crazier and more abstract as the album goes on. The instrumental on this one, courtesy of Rustie, has some trippy synths that sound like something straight off of Radiohead's classic "Kid A" album layered over window-shattering bass. The beat is nuts and both Danny Brown and Ab-Soul actually sound pretty good over it. This is one of the better "club" tracks on the album so far.

18) Kush Coma (featuring A$AP Rocky and Zelooperz) - This was one of the songs released in promotion of the album and its pretty good. The beat, provided by Skywlkr, is extremely energetic, with more spaced-out synths over booming 808's. Lyrically everyone comes correct and unsurprisingly kick some of their usual drug raps. This is another one of the better tracks on this side of the album, in my opinion.

19) Float On (featuring Charli XCX) - The final song on the album returns to the more laid back sound of the first half of the LP and features Danny Brown kicking some reflective and heartfelt lyrics over a mellow Frank Dukes instrumental. The beat is ill and Danny Brown opens up a bit over it, which acts as a nice change after the barrage of club tracks on the second half of the album.
"Remember praying to get in there saying rap to my brothers
And now I got the whole world listening
Give your ear for a second, a life changing decision
Every other minute thoughts run through my mind
Bout how bad I wanted this, but I cannot waste time
So I'm trapped in the beat, stuck on every line
Nothing else matters, except my next rhyme"
Very dope way to close out the album.

I'm going to rate the album

3 / 5

because the first half is fire, but the second half is not quite as strong in my opinion. The beats are extremely varied throughout, ranging from trap instrumentals and club tracks to darker, almost boom-bap inspired instrumentals. Lyrically the album is just as diverse, with Danny Brown coming with vivid storytelling and introspective lyrics on one song only to follow it up with a party track. I do like the way he separated the album into halves, though, with the first half being the more lyrical and the second half being the party tracks. Fans of Danny Brown will find plenty to like on here while casual listeners will probably just stick to one of the two halves and maybe a few cuts from the other side.

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