Over the past two years, Detroit native Danny Brown has worn weirdness on his sleeve and exploded to the pinnacle of independent hip-hop, moving from the abandoned fields of his hometown he raps of on his breakthrough LP XXX to touring with rising rap stars Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky. Mixing high octane flows with vivid imagery that runs down extensive experiences with drugs, sex, and crime (for both celebratory and cautionary purposes), Danny has cut a unique lane for himself. As one of the most unique artists in hip-hop right now, he can’t be imitated, but if you like what Danny Brown brings to the table, here are five other artists that you might dig.
Hit next or click the picture to read on…
If you’ve listened to Danny’s stellar XXX, you’ve heard mention of Danny’s Bruiser Brigade crew (on the aptly titled “Bruiser Brigade”), consisting of Mr. Brown and fellow Detroit emcees Dopehead (pictured above) and Chip$. More than mere flunkies, both rappers flex distinctive rapping styles, with Dopehead taking cues from Danny (energetic, elastic cadence and outlandish imagery) and Chip$ going a more fluid approach, his style closely hewn from traditional New York rapping.
With an ear for production that will please fans of Danny’s XXX or his earlier LP The Hybrid, Dopehead and Chip$ aren’t quite as idiosyncratic as their more famous counterpart, but they’re certainly capable of craft similarly satisfying songs—Dopehead, in particular, extending Danny’s gift for painting a breathing picture of poverty in Detroit.
Fans of Danny Brown are likely aware that drugs figure centrally into his worldview. He’s also a fan of sonic experimentation in his production choices. Though more influenced by Funkadelic at their noisiest than any oddball rap outfits, defunct band New Kingdom shared Danny’s passions for out there sounds and mind opening experiences. Blending the dusty funk of a group like Cypress hill with fuzzed out psychedelic rock, New Kingdom crafted two unique listening experiences across their only two LPs, the fairly straightforward (by comparison) Hard Load and the distorted, madcap followup Paradise Don’t Come Cheap. On Paradise, New Kingdom unleashed a vision at times terrifying and exhilarating, a reverb drenched set that feels like the plateau and come down of the worst trip in rap history.
Though Danny has drawn comparisons to late Wu Tang member Ol Dirty Bastard for his wild streak and striking appearance, his music bears a greater kinship with that of another Wu offshoot, the Gravediggaz. Comprised of super producers RZA and Prince Paul and rappers Frukwan and Too Poetic, the Gravediggaz crafted one of hip-hop’s most darkly cohesive journeys with their debut LP 6 Feet Deep (or, as it was more controversially known outside the US, Niggamortis).
Filtering drugs, violence, sex, suicide, and mysticism through a nightmarish hue that bounced between the cartoonish and the frighteningly serious, the Gravediggaz crafted a pioneering vision that introduced the world to horrorcore (for better or worse). Though stylistically very different from Danny, the darkness and complex stance towards narcotic-fueled turmoil make the Gravediggaz strong forebears of an album like XXX.
Though Floridian rapper Robb Bank$ doesn’t necessarily sound like Danny Brown, it’s not hard to hear the young emcee’s “so wipe me down, I got a lotta money now bitch” refrain (from “Look Like Basquiat”) on a Danny track. Energetic, sharp flows and a tendency for mixing street antics and absurdist imagery, Bank$’ handful of tracks (scattered across YouTube and Last.fm) exhibit a rapper capable of absorbing influences and turning out original creations—a trademark of Brown, a voracious rap listener and student.
Brotha Lynch Hung
The easy comparison between Danny Brown and Sacramento iconoclast, underground mainstay and horrorcore standard bearer Brotha Lynch Hung touches on their similarly outlandish on record (and off record) personas. A deeper dig, however, reveals just how much of Danny’s cadence is owed to Brotha Lynch Hung, with a bounce and control glimpsed across similar artists Lord Infamous and Bone Thugs N Harmony (unsurprisingly influences of A$AP Rocky, one of Danny’s famous rap friends). For fans of Danny Brown in their darkest moods, Brotha Lynch Hung (and Lord Infamous, if you’re in the mood for some dusty old Three 6 Mafia) provides a fantastically diabolical playlist addition.