Nov 11, 2013 Web Exclusive
Old may not be the most easily digestible album you'll hear this year, but if you're willing to take the trip, you'll find its unwavering eccentricity is matched only by its creative genius. Presented in two distinct halves, the album is as divided as Danny Brown himself—highlighting his struggle to reconcile the shadows of his past, present, and future—all set to frenetic, laser-sharp production and schizophrenic beats. The first half, "Side A," is an introspective dissection of the street he can't forget and the demons he can't outrun, with tracks about growing up in abject poverty ("25 Bucks," "Wonderbread") and horrific tales of life in Detroit on the fringes of existence ("Torture"). "Side B" sees the return of Danny Brown the molly-popping maniac—hipster-hop's drug-addled clown prince. He's the guy who just wants to party and eat pussy ("Dip"), or lose his mind in a haze of insanity ("Break It (Go)"), or get high and forget the things he's seen—as he expounds in the coda of "Smokin & Drinkin": "Mixing liquor with them xannies/Stress party, get away, hope that these problems just go away/Right there in my face, I ignore it every day."
Intelligent earnest lyricism, raw subject matter, exquisite minimalist production, and bombastic thrills. Old doesn't sound like anything approaching a conventional hip-hop record—and in a year when the majority of rap's big hitters failed to deliver, it couldn't feel more indispensable. (www.xdannyxbrownx.com)
Author rating: 8.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10