The first time I heard Danny Brown was in 2008. I was on a big Black Milk kick at the time, and Danny made an appearance on Elzhi’s debut spectacle, The Preface. While the best part of that album is the back-and-forth lyrical slaughter between Elzhi and Royce on “Motown 25,” my favorite line on the album will always be Danny Brown’s: “I fire up the blunt and it tastes like gumbo, hit the trees hard like George in the Jungle.”
Like most people, it took me a while to fully enjoy Mr. Hybrid. The high pitch shrills came off as obnoxious, the lines overwhelmingly vulgar. But also, like most people, I found myself repeating the lines, listening more and more, quoting favorite lines to friends at bars, disgusting most of the unfamiliar ladies. It is 2013 and it goes without saying that Danny Brown is the man. One of my favorite rappers and definitely my favorite hip-hop personality. His upcoming album Old is receiving a great deal of buzz, with expected beats from Skywlkr and Purity Ring. So, to keep my toes from wiggling so much, I have been diving into the Danny Brown discography. All of it. From his 2003 debut tape with Dopehead and Chip$ under the moniker Rese’vor Dogs to his most recent EP drop with Bruiser Brigade. Did you know that he did an album with Tony Yayo called Hawaiian Snow? Oh boy. With all the releases, Danny has created an enjoyable fifteen album lunar trip through the mind of a lyrical madman. 191 songs, damn near one gig. This is not including the many, many features he has, only solo work. So hold your girl close, Danny’s coming to town. Get familiar.
Rese’vor Dogs – Runispokets-N-Dumpemindariva (2003)
Number of Tracks: 8 (that I could find)
Blurb: Ten years ago, Danny Brown, Dopehead, and Chip$ released an independent Detroit posse album that caught the attention of the labels, especially Roc-A-Fella, which led to Danny recording the never-properly-released Browntown. Runisopekts-N-Dumpemindariva started it all. Of the eight tracks I was able to find, the trio run through everything from street bangers to Neptunes-sounding parties, high energy at all times.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Who Runnin’ Dis” / “I’m a basket case and I write so perfect, don’t have to erase.”
Danny Brown – Detroit State of Mind 1 (2007)
Number of Tracks: 19
Blurb: The opening to Danny Brown’s first solo mixtape begins with a stoned DJ Travesty kicking off the album, letting the world know that Danny is locked up at the moment. Instant street cred. His first album is nineteen tracks of angered street stories, crack deals, thick blunt smoke to escape, and bothersome hood responsibilities. The high pitched, split personality Brown is mostly absent here, still moderate, but this is a great album to see where Brown was only six years ago, rapping about the struggle over James Brown and Rush instrumentals.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Learn About Me” / “Danny Brown in the streets like a light pole, whip same color as that lizard from Geiko.”
Danny Brown – Detroit State of Mind 2 (2008)
Number of Tracks: 12
Blurb: The only version I could find of this online was a zip file of twelve unnamed tracks. Unknown names, unknown producers, this quick mixtape has Danny going nuts over smooth motown, funk, and soul. Plenty of horns to go around, plenty of percussion to please Stones Throw. Dilla is somewhere within this tape. A handful of more stories about street kids dying too soon and liquor toasts to food stamps. Very few choruses, most tracks are fast verses and it’s on to the next one. Bars for days.
Strongest Track/Favorite Lines: “Track 4” / “Bout to get the paper like school supplies shopping. Like Police Academy, Brown stay coppin’.”
Danny Brown – Hot Soup (2008)
Number of Tracks: 16
Producers: Nick Speed (every track but one), Quelle
Blurb: Hot Soup is the first precise front-to-back Danny Brown album, one that flows and basks in the wonders of a man of many talents. At this stage in the game, Danny had only completed two full-lengths, Hot Soup and Browntown. This time around, we see a much more positive, energetic Brown, less bogged down by the struggles of the streets, more comical over funkier beats. Linking up with Nick Speed, Danny is able to tell his story over melodic horns, heavy drums, and plenty of shout-outs to True Religion jeans. The cover shows a young Danny Brown, one who won a 1992 spelling bee competition, letting it be known that words are his friend. Next to XXX, this might be my favorite album by him. No weak tracks.
Strongest Track/Favorite Verse: “Sittin’ So High” / “Tiger fitted with the can and the Swisher sweet / Trunk sounding like a monster on trick-or-treat.”
Danny Brown – Detroit State of Mind 3 (2009)
Number of Tracks: 13
Blurb: The introductory track on his third installment of the Detroit State of Mind series begins with Danny Brown rapping some of his best lines. No verses, only an orchestra and a man with a need to make it big, to provide for his family, to finally reap the pleasures of the hip-hop game. Many of these tracks are also seen on Brown’s album with Nick Speed, Hot Soup, as well as his “B-Side” release after The Hybrid, known as Cutting Room Floor. At this point, Brown has been doing it for at least six years, and his time to shine would be coming soon.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Fire” / “Sun ain’t shinin’, but I’m smokin’ on some mango. Sittin’ in a Cutty, same color as a raincoat,” and, “Smoke so much weed that my brain feel mushy. Bitches suck me off like a 7Eleven Slurpee.”
Danny Brown – Browntown (2009)
Number of Tracks: 10 (11, depending on the download)
Blurb: An album that never saw the light of day. With Danny shaking his head at Roc-A-Fella Records, Browntown was eventually released for free online in 2009, despite being recorded in 2004. When Danny released the album to the masses, months before his buzz worthy The Hybrid, he claimed that Browntown 2 was on the way. Will that ever surface? Was it even created? Meanwhile, Browntown is a dark confessional album that deals with the tough times of Detroit, crack deals galore. Listen up for the sirens.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Metal Gear Solid” is a punch in the face, just how I like it / “Your bitch wanna braid it, say she got skills. But she just fishin’, want me to fill her gills.”
Danny Brown – Detroit State of Mind 4 (2010)
Number of Tracks: 12
Producers: Black Milk, DJ Babu, Apollo Brown, Danny!
Featured Guests: Guilty Simpson, T-3 (of Slum Village), Trick Trick
Blurb: This is the first full-length by Danny Brown I ever downloaded. When it dropped, 9th Wonder gave it a co-sign, Black Milk was all over it, so I couldn’t say no. The final installment in the Detroit State of Mind series, this mixtape features Detroit guests like Guilty Simpson and has Danny Brown doing what he does best: screaming about the streets, harassing all the haters one clever line at a time. Pregnant women smoking crack, rival murders, all on the streets of the D. As Guilty says, it’s “brass knuckle rap.”
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Contra” has a famous sample flipped perfectly by Apollo Brown. One of my favorite D. Brown songs / “Jeans fittin’ like they was made for me. Your pants lookin’ like they was hand-me-downs from your daddy, get at me. My fit worth a stackie. I’m in a Caddy getting’ head in the backseat.”
Tony Yayo & Danny Brown – Hawaiian Snow (2010)
Number of Tracks: 12
Featured Guest: Lil’ B
Blurb: 2010 was the first time we saw Danny Brown leave Detroit. There were talks of a signing with G-Unit that were obviously nothing more than whispers, Brown joking that 50 didn’t like the way he dressed. His joint album with G-Unit prison fan Tony Yayo shows a new side of Brown, a side of him at a party with a handful of ladies and no care in the world. The hood seems so far away, but it’s always in the back of his head. The manic gestures of Brown and the lazy lines of Yayo bounce really well together, even the BasedGod swings by for two of his better verses. This album sounds great in a car.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Cyclops” / “Trying to figure out the way to bottle up pussy juice. Have my PayPal clickin’, sales goin’ through the roof. Y’all niggas cooch, my pockets on Bruce Bruce. You fruits got no loot, just brew and fruit juice.”
Danny Brown – The Hybrid (2010)
Number of Tracks: 16
Producers: Quelle, Mainframe, Nick Speed, Danny!, Chuck Inglish, Frank Dukes, 14KT
Blurb: The Hybrid was Danny Brown’s first official and properly released album, given much acclaim. After years of grinding, the hard work finally paid off. The Hybrid would take Brown to XXX which would show him off to the world. Released through Rappers I Know in 2010, this album was a great introduction to the hip-hop heads who had yet to be fed some Danny Brown bread.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Greatest Rapper Ever” / “But I stay dolo, you wearin’ Polo. Who are you, Young Dro? I’m fifth floor at the Bellagio, Vegas bitches that’s resembling Rosario.”
Danny Brown – The Hybrid: Cutting Room Floor (2010)
Number of Tracks: 17
Featured Guests: Marv Won, Dopehead, and Fatt Father.
Blurb: B-sides and throwaways from The Hybrid sessions, some of which we saw on Hot Soup as well as Detroit State of Mind. Other than the overlap, there are a handful of gems that stand out in the pile, most of which are calm, sleepy retrospects that display the many layers of the Hybrid.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “What I Talk” / “My nigga, you a hater. Lookin’ for that chronic, same color as Darth Vader.”
Danny Brown – It’s A Art (2010)
Number of Tracks: 16
Producers: Blu and Mainframe
Blurb: A slept-on project with Johnson&Jonson that was quietly released and never mastered. A few tracks resurfaced in 2012 and the hip-hop world began rumors and murmurs about a full-length called Danny Johnson. But, Danny quieted the rumors when he stated that the album had already been released, two years prior, and to get to downloading. Despite the potential and a few standout tracks, most of the songs turn into background music, the soulful instrumentals sounding like elevator music, outdated beats that might go well with The College Dropout six years prior. A good album, but not one I return to often.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “It’s A Art” / “I get this bitch bumpin’ like a fish fry and your bitch say Danny Brown is so fly, stuck it in her apple like American Pie, thought I was doin’ makeup how I put it ’round her eye.”
Danny Brown & Black Milk – Black & Brown EP (2011)
Number of Tracks: 10
Producer: Black Milk
Blurb: A nice little project between Danny Brown and Black Milk, with Milk staying away from the microphone (except on the previously-released “Black & Brown”) and controlling the soundscape instead. These ten tracks are all over the place, as it seems that Black Milk is unable to be happy with a beat before switching it over to a new one. When the album strikes gold, and it does often, the results are mesmerizing. If only they fleshed these potential beasts out a bit more.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Zap” might be my favorite song by Danny Brown, but the lyrics on “Black & Brown” are too good to not mention here / “If you never knew me, then you’ll probably never know me. Blade on me, homie, mask on like Shinobi. Ball so hard, got an MVP trophy. Smoke so much kush, I forget the hoes that blow me. Thick white bitch, slurp a nigga like Kirby. Hoes on a nigga and they all look thirsty. Say they nineteen and they all look 30. Every day clean, y’all always dirty, chronic comin’ in the same bag as a turkey. Dark color purple and it’s tastin’ like Hershey.”
Danny Brown – XXX (2011)
Number of Tracks: 19
Producers: Frank Dukes, Skywlkr, Brandun DeShay, Squadda B, Nick Speed, Quelle, Paul White, DJ House Shoes
Featured Guests: Dopehead, Chip$
Blurb: The breakthrough album that everyone knows about. The 19 track beast. The critically acclaimed madman masterpiece. The best.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: This is too difficult to select, as many tracks and many lines come to mind for this decision. That being said, I really like the opening to “Monopoly” / “The Hybrid, smoking on papaya that give you niggas bronchitis. What you write is all vagina, what I write is Wall of China. Nigga, that’s great like eighths of Grape Ape getting’ stuffed in my suitcase.”
Danny Brown – The OD EP (2012)
Number of Tracks: 3 (with 3 instrumentals)
Blurb: A small EP of three unreleased tracks that were recorded during the XXX sessions to hold to fans over until something bigger dropped. All three tracks are great and could have fit within the realm of XXX, but nineteen tracks was plenty. Thankfully, it is further evidence of the greatness between Brown and Skywlkr and a reassurance of what is to come next. These beats are wild.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Witit” is one of my favorite beats that Brown raps over. It makes me uneasy to sit still, forcing me to move my whole body whenever the beat drops. / “They say I’m a menace, I meant it, I meant it. Be more than just a minute, this dick touch your appendix.”
Bruiser Brigade – Scion A/V Presents: Bruiser Brigade EP (2012)
Number of Tracks: 2 (with 2 instrumentals)
Blurb: Ten years ago, when Dopehead and Danny Brown rapped together, they were Rese’vor Dogs. Now they have grown up a bit and are a more powerful Bruiser Brigade. STYLE! Same dope lines, better production and co-signs by Scion, who have also released songs for Harry Fraud and Hot Sugar. If only they would start releasing unedited versions of these songs.
Strongest Track/Favorite Line: “Jooky” is a trunk shaker mixed with a haunted house and a panic attack, both Brown and Dopehead don’t pause to breathe, but the best line comes from Brown’s opening to “Errthang” / “Put that on my ma, I swear to god, put that on my great great grandma, put that on my squad that I’m gonna get it. Any time. Rain, sleet, snow, or hail, I’m on my grind.”
And, finally, if anyone cares, if you still need more Danny in your ears and you don’t know where to begin, here are my five favorite Danny Brown features. Enjoy:
Chavis Chandler – STYLE (Feat. Danny Brown & Crack Killz Da God)
Heems – You Have to Ride the Wave (Feat. Mr. MFN Exquire & Danny Brown)
Pusha-T, Raekwon, Joell Ortiz, & Danny Brown – Tick Tock
Childish Gambino – Toxic (Feat. Danny Brown)
Main Attrakionz – Cloud Skatin’ (Feat. Danny Brown)