Getting old kind of sucks, being a responsible and productive member of society isn’t a very appealing notion. I’d rather watch 5 seasons of Parks and Rec on Netflix and then try to go out one night pretending to be Jean-Ralphio just to see if I could dance up on some girls.
On his third outing, Brown mediates on his rough Detroit upbringing riddled with scenes of drug abuse, poverty, and broken homes. Despite the dark subject matter, he continues to expand upon his persona as hip-hop’s resident weirdo as only Danny Brown can. No other rapper in the game can claim to have collaborated with artists as diverse as ASAP Rocky, Charli XCX and Purity Ring. For those of you unfamiliar with his earlier work, this is a man who began a prolific career out of rapping about his infatuation with cunnilingus.
Thematically Old is very much a record about mortality. Not necessarily about coming to terms with death, rather trying to make sense of a certain position in life. At 31, Brown is no young up and comer. He has been on the scene for a while and has seen varying degrees of success. Much like other current rap fixtures which have garnered wide spread acclaim later in their careers (Pusha T, 2 Chainz), Brown exudes a certain confidence that I would be amiss to label as the catch all term “swagger,” much of the second half of the album serves as a mission statement to assert the success he created by staying to true to his unorthodox ethos. On “Handstand” he raps: “Shake that ass for a hipster nigga,” which certainly isn’t a claim being made by many hip-hop artists in 2013.
Drugs, a staple of Danny Brown’s lyrical content throughout his career, are glaringly evident throughout the album. The irony of these lyrics when considered in the context of “Living for the better tryna get myself together” lends a certain poignancy to Old. Brown is conscious of his age and the baggage which comes along with it (parenthood, taking care of his mother) but can’t quite seem to escape his dark past. The album is compromised of a Side A and a Side B, the former serves as a mediation on the rock ‘n roll lifestyle he has grown accustomed to, while the latter speaks to his status as a successful rap icon in a homogenous hip-hop landscape.
Overall I would argue Old is a success in 2013 (sure to be featured on many year end critic’s lists) and an album that will solidify Danny Brown’s status as a highly sought after commodity for guest verses in the year to come. Just don’t expect him to be up to his usual tricks next time around. On the album opener “Side A” he raps: “They want that old Danny Brown,” it’s probably safe to say that isn’t going to be the case anytime soon.
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