ALBUM REVIEW: uknowhatimsayin¿ by Danny Brown

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WRITTEN BY: Holden Linton

Danny Brown is finally back in style after releasing his acid-trip masterpiece, Atrocity Exhibition, back in 2016. The album was a drug induced trip through the mind of Brown with many outlandish yet crazy beats that came with Brown rapping about his drug habits. Brown would also go into the effects of drug use in a state of self-awareness, preventing the listener from going down the same path he did. Every track from front to back held a meaningful place on the album while taking risks at the same time, making Atrocity Exhibition Brown’s most praised album yet. Throughout Danny Brown’s discography since the beginning of his career, the theme of most of his albums have been about drug addiction and the downward spiral he has been experiencing. With Danny Brown’s 5th album, uknowhatimsayin¿, listeners are experiencing a more tame, sober, and cleaned up Danny Brown, with him reflecting on his past yet looking to his future. 

While getting a more tamed Danny, listeners also get a little more tamed beats in comparison to his previous work Atrocity Exhibition. That does not mean that the beats on this album are not good though; this album is executively produced by A Tribe Called Quest’s very own Q-Tip, as well as receiving production features from JPEGMAFIA, Flying Lotus, and Brown’s very own Paul White. With a production line up like that, the record was in good hands. This album is also Danny Brown’s shortest work to date in comparison to all of his other records. He opens the work with “Change Up,” which is the start of the new Danny Brown and how he is looking away from the past and “changing up” his life style. Next in the album is “Theme song,” which has such a mesmerizing instrumental and is one of the more chiller tracks that Danny has rapped over ever. “Dirty Laundry” up next is such a funny track with silly bars from him. Talking about his past sexual escapades like going on the internet to meet who he calls a “fat white bitch named Helen.” As one of the first singles for the album, it will definitely going to be a fan favorite. 

Then comes “3 Tearz” featuring Run The Jewels and production from JPEGMAFIA, which good god is this song grimey. “3 Tearz” to uknowhatimsayin¿ is “Really Doe” to Atrocity Exhibition. The beat for this particular song is insane and it feels like a New York landscape with the odd organ hits across this track. Run the Jewels also delivers amazing bars on this track that fits the feeling perfectly. “Belly of the Beast feat. Obongjayar” has a wooshy and atmospheric instrumental with more funny bars from Danny Brown. This track also has such an odd mix where it feels like Danny and Obongjayar’s vocals are not part of the track. “Savage Nomad” has a great instrumental but Danny lacks to pull in interest with most of his bars on this track. It is a bit forgettable but regardless still a good track. 

“Best Life” feels like a CLASSIC with its beautiful instrumental and a happy Danny looking forward to his future saying “Ain’t no next life so now I’m tryna live my best life,” the track sure to be another fan favorite. The title track “uknowhatimsayin¿” is a quite funky chill out point in the album with such flowy lyrics from Danny Brown. Obongjayar is featured once again and gives a really nice hook too. The track “Negro Spiritual” feels like such a sketchy bank-robbing track featuring Flying Lotus on the beat. This is definitely a track that people will fall in love with for its fast paced feeling as well JPEGMAFIA’s hook on this song. We are getting a soft Peggy vocal delivery this time, which by the way is amazing, as he is busting out “Buttermilk Jesus” all over this track. 

“Shine” featuring Blood Orange is another atmospheric track but there is nothing too interesting about this track to pull the listener in; coming across as one of the more forgettable tracks of this record. This record then finishes off with “Combat.” This serves as a great closer but definitely different to any other closer Danny has made on his past albums. Towards the middle of the track, listeners are surprised by the vocal appearance of all of the members of A Tribe Called Quest. The happy old time trumpet beat on this track is beautiful and funky, making this track feel like a classic Jazz Rap song from A Tribe Called Quest. 

Uknowhatimsayin¿ is an interesting addition to the discography of Danny Brown. It is the first time we are seeing a fresh and healthy Danny Brown in comparison to any of his older records. Listeners usually expect to have the hard-hitting Danny as usual but Danny is not afraid to take risks like this. Listeners will most likely be glad that Danny is doing much better and that he is taking care of himself. This is a great record but this is not a XXX or an Atrocity Exhibition. Danny is in no rush of trying to impress for he has two amazing classic records on his belt. While uknowhatimsayin¿ is a different record, it is still an enjoyable one!

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