Danny Brown first hit many listeners’ radar when he dropped his Nick Speed-produced album Hot Soup, which was an ample collection of just what makes this MC so intriguing. But for many others, Brown’s debut came on J Dilla’s posthumous Jay Stay Paid. The Detroit MC absolutely slaughtered Dilla’s equally killer “Dilla Bot vs. The Hybrid” track, making for a duo that could have rocked this world if the producer had not passed away. Either way, the world has had its chance to be introduced to Brown at this point. And if you’re not acquainted with him yet, get ready to be kicked in the chest by his latest effort, The Hybrid.
The inherent issue with Brown is that he isolates listeners. From the feedback I have witnessed on his releases, it’s become apparent that people either love or hate this eccentric rapper, for better or for worse. However, to be fair, that should come as no surprise to anyone. Brown’s lyrics tend to float around the realm of absurdity, though he is certainly capable of tackling serious issues, such as on the telling “Generation RX”. And his voice, though it fluctuates in tone, mostly sticks to an oddball shouty delivery. I usually liken him to a slightly higher-pitched, new-age Ol’ Dirty Bastard, with a Detroit bent.
Like ODB, Brown’s subject matter is heavy on odes to drug use, ridiculous misogyny, and hilarious punch lines. Across the entirety of The Hybrid, there are so many quotables that it’s almost to the point of insanity. Lines like “bitch talkin’ pampers / know she full of shit” make you both laugh and question whether Brown might just be a closet genius. He takes previously used ideas and puts gut-punching spins on them, while delivering them with a unique flow.
It’s also important to note that there is not one single weak or filler track across this 16-track album. Sure, there are some that don’t resonate as strongly as others and Brown might repeat a lot of his sentiments, particularly when it comes to profane imagery laced with misogyny and oodles of drug references. But each cut, and its bars within, is more than worth its placement here. It all really goes back to the fact that this Detroit MC is, to be completely blunt, entertaining as hell, from the wackiness of “Re-Up” to the guttery, rock-oriented “Guitar Solo”.
All of that being said, of course, if you’re not a fan of Brown, this record is probably not for you. He might, and I stress might, win over a few new fans thanks to the toned down insanity and versatility of tracks like the aforementioned “Generation Rx”. And it doesn’t hurt at all that he’s backed by an impressive lineup of producers including 14KT, Danny!, Quelle, Chuck Inglish, and several other heavyweights. Few artists these days are able to accomplish putting together such a cohesive record with such a varied list of producers. Brown pulls it off easily, though, and keeps the pace moving steadily and smoothly. He can thank his distinctive delivery for that as anyone with a less interesting or gripping style would likely lose him or herself in the beats on here. But, unfortunately, Brown is still going to turn some listeners away, no matter how fantastic the production and lyrics are on The Hybrid.