Danny Brown balances humility and brash confidence becoming the king of modern rap in the progress

Danny Brown’s never performed in Canada which is relatively surprising considering his work ethic. The Detroit-bred performer who’s been on a steady incline since the release of his 2011 masterpiece XXX has hit the road hard. Instead of shitty 3 a.m. club appearances that are preferred by the last generation of rappers his touring schedule looks more like that of a punk band (say White Lung whose frontwoman Mish Way has become a friend of Brown’s. “We met at SXSW and hung out. She’s a cool girl I like her” he tells me).

It’s not his fault that he’s never played the Great White North — last time he tried he was turned away at the border thanks to some priors. Provided he can make it this time he’ll tear it up at Commonwealth alongside his touring partner Action Bronson (who for the record boasts an equally addictive balance of personality and raw talent). The shows will be memorable but Brown is quick to admit that he probably won’t do much exploring around town. “It’s not like I’m a tourist when I go anywhere” he says. “I’ve been around the world but I’ve never really been anywhere…. I can’t really expect too much but hopefully it has a cool green room.”

That grounded sense of humour is one of Brown’s many affable character traits. He’s also wildly emphatic on the mic delivering his sordid but hilarious wordplay through a high-pitched high-energy yelp. Initially expected to sign with 50 Cent’s G Unit crew Brown was deemed too hip for the label. He independently released his debut album 2010’s pretty good The Hybrid before dropping the career-making 2011 freebie XXX an ode to debauchery and getting old (aside from its obvious connotation the title also references turning 30).

Now two years and countless shows press appearances and guest verses later Brown’s finally set to release a proper followup. Old will finally see the light of day on September 30 via Fool’s Gold a fact that has Brown sweating.

“I’m super nervous — anxiety attacks can’t really sleep” he says. “I guess I just want it to be good. I’ve been like this with every project I’ve put out and they’ve been good. I guess if I felt super-confident like everybody’s gonna like this record that’d be the one everyone doesn’t like.” Don’t get it twisted however — Brown’s not feigning humility. He’s simply referencing his own drive for perfection. “This is the best I got right now. This is the best I could do.”

That attention to detail combined with a desire to push rap to new and fascinating places comes through in everything we’ve heard from Old so far. Recent tracks like “ODB” and the busy synth anthem “Kush Coma” ramp up the pop appeal without sacrificing any of Brown’s shouted rap intensity or smarmy sense of humour.

The LP also boasts a wildly varied and talented well of collaborators including rappers like Schoolboy Q Ab-Soul and Mr. MFN Esquire alongside the likes of Edmonton-via-Montreal pop duo Purity Ring British pop genius Charli XCX Madlib’s little brother and fellow beat-maker Oh No and DJ extraordinaire/Fool’s Gold label head A-Trak.

“I don’t want to get too cocky but it is a pretty good record if I must say so myself” he says delivering his patented Danny Brown giggle. “Compared to the other stuff coming out this year it’s in a class of its own. I can’t really compare it to anything in this time. That’s the biggest thing about this project — I want it to be a thing of its own.

“I mean right now hip-hop is a popularity contest” he adds. “The coolest guy around right now is not making the best music you know?” It’s an interesting thought but he’s dead wrong. The coolest guy around is most certainly making the best music.

Danny Brown performs on Tuesday September 10 at Commonwealth with Action Bronson.

Update: Danny Brown was denied entry into Canada and will not be performing in Calgary. Action Bronson will still be on the bill however.

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