Danny Brown goes back to basics on uknowhatimsayin¿
Danny Brown, hip hop’s resident weirdo, had huge expectations for the follow-up to his acclaimed 2016 drug-fest of an album, Atrocity Exhibition. The album was grand in scope, featuring a nominee for this decade’s best posse-cut that saw Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, and Ab-Soul trade bars with the idiosyncratic Detroit rapper.
Uknowhatimsayin¿, on the other hand, is Brown’s most grounded effort to date. While still strange in comparison to most rap releases, this album is a far cry from what was expected. The intro, “Change Up,” begins with a single guitar string that echoes enough to give it the classic paranoid feeling of a Danny Brown track. His lyrics also reciprocate the eerie feeling of the song, as Brown raps about focusing on his own life (“Gotta keep a grip when the rent is due / N****s tryna get you for every last cent”).
Legendary rapper/producer Q-Tip executive produced the album, which is easy to see when listening to the songs he produced himself, such as standout “Dirty Laundry” and nostalgia-filled closer, “Combat.” This album is partly a love letter to 90s instrumentals, while also trying to add the signature Danny Brown touch to it.
Uknowhatimsayin¿ also stands out with its features as underground darlings Jpegmafia, Blood Orange and Run the Jewels all make appearances. “3 Tearz” sees a lively Killer Mike of Run the Jewels, where he delivers an impassioned verse targeted directly to U.S. president Donald Trump (“I don’t give a fuck ‘bout Trump, who got dump? / Who protesting collections at their garbage dump?”).
Danny Brown’s strangeness continues to flourish even as he approaches 40. The rapper never ceases to innovate in his work and on uknowhatimsayin¿, he does the most with as little as possible. Don’t mistake this project for a lazy return, this is exactly what he needed after Atrocity Exhibition.
Trial Track: “Dirty Laundry”
“Work all day ’til the work gone (Step)
Talkin’ back in the day when I had a chirp phone (Boop)
My n***a made a wrong turn, got flipped in the zone
Had to say I was a smoker just so I could go home (Home)”
- Danny Brown on “Dirty Laundry”