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A review of Danny Brown’s album “uknowhatimsayin¿”.

After a long hiatus, Danny Brown returns to reclaim his status as one of rap's most creative individuals.

Hayden Fish

After a long hiatus, Danny Brown returns to reclaim his status as one of rap's most creative individuals.

After the underwhelming and missed release dates for multiple large names of rap this Sept., I was left hungry for more. Danny Brown satisfies that hunger with his clever, tight and concise early Oct. album “uknowhatimsayin¿”

Brown has been a wildcard in the rap game since his 2012 album “XXX” gained notoriety, with its nasal flow and hard-hitting industrial sound. Since then, he has consistently shown his unorthodox nature, with his missing front tooth, frizzy hair, and wild vocal inflections. This perception culminated with Brown’s 2016 concept album “Atrocity Exhibition.” This critically-acclaimed project attracted the attention of many, curious to see where he will go next and how he will continue with his dark and unhinged music. 

Brown diverted expectations by reeling his image back with a new smile and clean-shaven head, on the brightly-colored cover of his new album “uknowhatimsayin¿”. Although it is clear that he has changed over the three years since his previous project, Brown quickly reminds the listener that this is still him. On opening track “Change Up” he draws attention to these changes, doubling down on how he will “Never look back.”

From start to finish, “uknowhatimsayin¿” delivers the clever lyrics, one-liners, and great rhymes that Brown is known for. Brown’s originality is unmatched with his wacky song topics; his first single, entitled “Dirty Laundry,” has an ongoing motif of laundry, detergents, and cleaning in general. Despite making for an entertaining and engaging song, it provides context for Brown’s recently scrubbed image. 

Although the production differs from Brown’s previous works, the funky mix of electronic and instrumental beats with credits from Q-Tip, from “A Tribe Called Quest”, among others works well. Here, many of the tracks contain snazzy production that keeps any one song from becoming too boring. Yet as a whole, the album lacks the overarching theme that previous projects contained, with many of the tracks feeling somewhat disconnected from each other. 

I was surprised by the features that this album brings. My original disappointment with the feature list quickly dissipated as I heard the smooth vocals from Jpegmafia, which, despite only being a chorus, has quickly become one of my favorite moments of “uknowhatimsayin¿”

Other vocal additions from Obongjayar and Blood Orange work well too. Ironically, one of the features I was most looking forward to was my least favorite. “Run The Jewels,” a three-man rap collective, appears in the song “3 Tearz.” But they overstay their welcome here, and they don’t add as much as they usually do. 

It’s safe to say that this album is one of the sleeper hits of this fall. Despite the fact that Brown’s 2019 album lacks the punch of his previous projects, it breaks the mold in other ways and is a breath of fresh air for rap fans. This is a good listen for anyone hoping to further expose themselves to unique styles of hip hop. With such strong lyrical content as this, I expect I will be listening to the tracks of this album on repeat for weeks to come.