Album Review: Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition

By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor

[Warp; 2016]

Rating: 8.5/10

Key Tracks: “Lost,” “Golddust,” “When It Rain”

In the canon of major label Danny Brown releases, the 35-year-old’s mentality has drastically shifted throughout each release. Easily one of the most unique rappers in the game right now, the psychology of a highly intelligent man has deteriorated parallel to his musical style, and it’s especially evident on Atrocity Exhibition. Brown mirrors Ian Curtis completely here; he’s unhinged, fucked up and wasted off life’s tribulations. Contrary to XXX’s carnivalesque atmosphere, or Old’s club kid bonanza, Atrocity Exhibition delves into a twisted psyche unfailingly committed to revealing the scars of its existence.

Read these lyrics: “Had a threesome last night / Ain’t matter what it cost / Couldn’t it get hard / Tried to stuff it in soft / Had to fuck em both raw / Keep my fingers crossed.” That’s only the first song. A large part of why this record is so compelling is Brown’s insistence on baring his soul, no matter how gruesome or ugly the subject matter gets. “Dog I’m tryna eat / So I’m staying in the kitchen / Hunched over the stove / Gotta water water whip it” is the hook of “Lost,” flipping the trope of rappers selling drugs from glamorous into desperation, and highlighting his no-holds-barred attitude towards living.

The instrumentals and beats are equally as manic as Brown’s storytelling. “Golddust” flips a 70s prog rock record from galactic intrigue to drug-filled abjection and hysteria, perfectly characterizing the numbing situation Brown has found himself in. Tracks like “White Lines,” “Really Doe” and “Pneumonia” all echo the perverse conditions typified on Atrocity Exhibition, exemplified by morose melodies, corrosive drumbeats, and the insanity that is Danny Brown bouncing off the walls on every song.

There is a sick irony to Atrocity Exhibition. While being a “typical” Danny Brown record in that it’s about his abuse of drugs and his hedonistic ways, it’s also typical in that he longs for affection, contentment and above all, acceptance. He is a man who has travelled the hard road and craves normalcy, but shuns it at the same time. This is his chronologue and it perfectly encapsulates how he operates and the complexity of Danny Brown, the human being.

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