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As a rule, I’m against rappers with high-pitched voices, which is why I conducted public burnings of my Pharcyde, Fu-Schnickens, and Lords of the Underground tapes at the turn of the century. As with most rules, however, there are valid exceptions – three, to be exact. Milk Dee from Audio Two, King Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys, and Danny Brown. In a perfect universe, these three glass-shattering maestros of the microphone would currently be holed up in the studio with Rick Rubin and his old drum machine recording Spam 2: The Swine Strikes Back.

Just because I don’t hate Danny Brown’s squeals and squawks doesn’t mean that I spend my quality time with his music on rotation, though. I’ve seen him live and enjoyed a handful of his tracks at various points, but that’s where the total amount of fucks given about Mr. Brown ends. So it was with heavy heart that I decided to tackle his latest album, Atrocity Exhibition, his fourth official studio LP. Taking its a title from an old Joy Division song and largely produced by Englishman Paul White (who helped spend $70,000 on sample clearance) on paper this record is custom-made to send the Hipster Music Mafia info a frothy frenzy of superlatives.

‘Downward Spiral’

A strong opening, the track illustrates how my brain feels after half a bottle of Jameson, four pints of stout, and some indoor.

‘Tell Me What I Don’t Know’

I’m assuming that this is how Danny sounds minus the helium gas? I guess I should be happy but hearing this dude without his wacky vocal antics makes him about as useful as a Snoop Dogg record that isn’t about weed or Freddie Gibbs track that doesn’t mention guns. It also doesn’t help that there’s a percussion track running in the background that sounds like it accidently bled-in from the studio next door.

‘Rolling Stone’ (feat. Petite Noir)

The hook conjures the sound of if the Pet Shop Boys came from South Africa, if that means anything to you.

‘Really Doe’ (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul & Earl Sweatshirt)

This songs confirms a number of my existing views, which I always find rewarding and personally validating:

  • Ab Soul is easily the most entertaining rapper in TDE, as his line about Fanta and Henny demonstrates here.
  • Earl Sweatshirt is little more than a glorified sock salesman.
  • Kendrick’s voice continues to have the effect of nails on a chalkboard to my ears, a reference which is so outdated that not even I’m sure that I ever actually saw a blackboard in real life as a youf.


This sounds like a traditional rap song, albeit with a Spanish twist. Think of it as Speedy Gonzales Rap.

‘Ain’t It Funny’

There’s way too much going on here – consider it the audio equivalent of combining all of the uppers and downers you can get your hands on in one deadly dose and feeling your brain melt like a scented candle that once sat on the edge of Drake’s bathtub.


Where are all of these super expensive samples that were allegedly used for this album? *checks Wikipedia* Ah okay, they sampled shitty indie rock. Surely it would have been cheaper to get one of those bands that Ghostface seems to be so fond of recording with and get them to play some random noise?

‘White Lines’

One of the weirder Alchemist productions of recent times, it’s clearly custom made for Danny’s rapping style.


If Cypress Hill were still a thing (which they may actually be), this is what they would rap over in 2016.

‘Dance in the Water’

This brings to mind white dreadlocked teenagers dancing in the mud with no shoes at a music festival while pinged out of their minds… which is not a good thing.

‘From the Ground’ (feat. Kelela)

Some Rap & Bullshit.

‘When It Rain’

A track that would sound so much better if one was under the influence of a huge quantity of old school biker speed.


As far as fast rap over ‘80s video game/New Wave synths is concerned, this is legit. It also makes me want to rewatch Kung Fury on Netflix and then play Streets of Rage 2.

‘Get Hi’ (feat. B-Real)

Holy shit, is B-Real like Candyman (the horror movie, not the nineties rapper) in that if you type ‘Cypress Hill’ into a Google Docs page, he suddenly appears on the album you’re listening to? It also makes me wonder if my children’s children will ever live in a world where a rap album doesn’t feature at least one song specifically dedicated to smoking? Imagine that.

‘Hell for It’

The soundtrack here would be fitting for the final credits of a late seventies sci-fi film, which is an

appropriate way to end the album. Danny takes shots at my number one rap sheila Iggy, clearly because he’s sore he wasn’t chosen to judge the Australian version of X-Factor like she was.


I could discuss some of the deeper themes covered here, such as alienation, mental frailty and questions of self-identity but it isn’t that kind of party. The important thing is that I don’t hate five of these songs, so good job, Monsieur Brown!