Q&A: Interview with Detroit rapper Danny Brown
I'm opening up for Childish Gambino, so pretty much it's just his fans, you know? We don't really have the same kind of fan base, so I'm just trying to get it over as fast as possible to be honest.
Q&A: Interview with Detroit rapper Danny Brown
In 2011, Danny Brown released XXX, a triple reference to his age, the adult nature of his lyrics and illegal substances. The album captured all three and then some, inviting listeners a glimpse of Detroit. As a rapper, he’s ribald, hilarious and undeniably skillful. I had a chance to chat with Brown, who opens for Childish Gambino at Penn’s Landing on Friday, about his comedic edge.
City Paper: One of the things that sets your style apart is your sense of humor. I’ve heard you’re a fan of standup. Who are your favorite comedians of all time?
Danny Brown: Probably like Richard Pryor, Martin Lawrence, Louis C.K. That’s about it.
CP: What makes you want to inject humor into your rap?
DB: I talk about a lot of serious situations so why not disguise it in humor? [When it’s] so fucked up, you rather make the person laugh than make people feel, you know, way more fucked up about the situation than anything.
CP: Is that something you’ve always done or was there a turning point where you decided to go more the comedic route?
DB: I just think that’s just a Detroit personality in some sense. I think that’s being from Detroit.
CP: Outside of rap, which genres of music do you listen to most?
DB: I really like rock and electronic. Probably like half and half.
CP: Your father was a house DJ; I assume you heard a lot of it growing up. Is there any house you still listen to today?
DB: I wouldn’t say I listen too much house, but electronic as a whole yeah. But I listen to more grime if anything.
CP: How do you pick beats?
DB: Probably more so by a heart thing, not by an ear thing. Just what I feel.
CP: Who were your favorite rappers to listen to as a teenager?
DB: Nas, and like Wu-Tang. And like E-40.
CP: You talk about being from Detroit a lot, in your music and in your interviews. So many images of dilapidated buildings and areas of Detroit have become internet obsessions, so much so that it’s being called ruin porn. Do you see fans or critics taking that same attitude toward your music at all?
DB: I guess in some sense you can say that. It’s the same thing. It’s almost like seeing something so fucked up it becomes beautiful.
CP: How do you feel about that?
DB: That’s cool with me… I can’t do nothing but do what I do and make music for myself. If I like it, then y’all’ll hear it. That’s the way it go. So really, I just look at, I’m making shit for myself and if anybody else dig that shit, they just cool, that’s all.
CP: What’s coming up next for you? Is there a new project in the works?
DB: I mean, I write all the time… but yeah, always a project in the works.
CP: What is the new music sounding like? Is it headed in a new direction?
DB: I mean, I don’t really like spoiling shit… so I don’t really talk about it, I just let the show improve, you know. I’m not that guy — like, ‘oh this gon be the best album’ and all that. ‘This gon be dope’ — I don’t do that. I just make what I make and put it out. I don’t even like talking about it to be honest. I just like surprises. That’s how my albums are. It’s not like songs. It’s more like me documenting my life through albums. So, in some sense there’s got to be like loops and trick holes in it and shit, you know? So I don’t like giving away the story too early.
CP: What can people expect from the show?
DB: I mean I don’t know. It’s kind of like a different situation. I’m opening up for Childish Gambino, so pretty much it’s just his fans, you know? We don’t really have the same kind of fan base, so I’m just trying to get it over as fast as possible to be honest.
Childish Gambino with Danny Brown, Tomorrow, Fri., June 22, $47.35, River Stage at Great Plaza, Chestnut Street and Columbus Boulevard. More info here.
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