Danny Brown’s Demented Roots

Photograph: Misha Vladimirskiy/Filterless

As one of the most unbridled voices in rap today, Danny Brown can come off as something of an attention-starved maniac to the uninitiated. But get past the gritty hood politics, blacked-out benders, and turbulent fuckfests, and Brown’s music reveals itself to be largely about the pained, confused loss of one’s innocence. His lyrics are as dotted with old-school street poetics as they are ridiculously turnt up hedonism, and Brown confronts the addictive, drug-fueled culture of his native Detroit upbringing with an attitude that is both relentlessly eager and utterly horrified at itself. For all his delirious energy, he’s an incredibly sentimental artist, a rapper whose braggadocio-filled nights tend to end with a sad, self-loathing walk home. A genuine wildcard with a taste for heavy atmospherics (the man is a self-professed Radiohead fanboy), Brown draws inspiration from the party animals and outcasts who bear a solemn knowledge of the brutal side of life in the city, and who refuse to let that darkness interfere with their good time. — Sam Goldner