Music

Danny Brown - "Ain't It Funny" (Singles Going Steady)

Boy, this video starts out like a lark, and then 17 or so dark left turns later we're left contemplating both the nature of entertainment and our all-too-fragile mortality.

Andrew Paschal: The second season of Mr. Robot featured a scene similar to the "Ain't It Funny" music video, with the characters locked in a twisted black comedy version of an old-school sitcom. Both clips vacillate between funny-creepy and actual creepy, using humor while also inverting and dissecting that humor. Danny Brown is excellent as always about highlighting substance abuse as the mental health problem it is while pointing out the way artists are in some ways encouraged to self-destruct for public entertainment. [8/10]

Paul Carr: Danny Brown loops the loop of lunacy on this choice cut from last year’s Atrocity Exhibition album. His unhinged, rapid-fire rapping is perfectly framed by rough and bumpy beats featuring slashes of piercing, distorted brass. It comes across as the paranoid ravings of someone who has spent far too long inside covering his furniture in tin-foil. However, the sound is so intense, and the lyrics are spat so persuasively that before long you’re happy to pop your cell phone in the fridge and join him. After all, too much sanity is madness anyway. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Manic energy meets bitter irony in Danny Brown’s and Jonah Hill’s video for Brown’s “Ain’t It Funny”, a darkly dizzying track about hard drug abuse. It’s a genius take on the subject, with Brown at a perfectly uncomfortable level of hyperactivity and a video that takes the hokey, cheerful look of a retro sitcom and covers it with anguish and gore. It’s a well-crafted statement that packs a horrifying punch and might be the most emotionally wrenching a couple of giant foam prescription drug bottles have ever been. Sharp and bleak, with a gripping beat. [9/10]

Steve Horowitz: This is a seriously funny video that illustrates the point of the rap. Listening to lyrics about overindulging and addiction has become a staple of popular music and has been for decades. It's not unusual to witness a performer croon about his or her problems to an audience who laughs in response. This takes on the issue head on. But of course, it does not and cannot provide an answer. If humor is watching someone slip on a banana peel, no one thinks about the trip to the emergency room and the physical therapy that follows. Brown's lyrics and acting do a great job of reminding the audience that one person's comedy is another one's tragedy. His words make this clear, and his lesson is a worth noting. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: An all-out, more-is-more affair from Brown, using overloaded synths and rapid-fire rhymes to create a sense of chaos and confusion. The Jonah Hill-directed video is a fun dig at sitcom culture, and Brown is obviously having a blast. Not much subtlety here, which is probably the point. [7/10]

Mike Schiller: Boy, this video starts out like a lark, and then 17 or so dark left turns later we're left contemplating both the nature of entertainment and our all-too-fragile mortality. We get there by way of a typically frenetic Danny Brown rap from last year's difficult-listening masterpiece Atrocity Exhibition, where it's made obvious that what Brown is ranting about here is clearly not funny at all. Director Jonah Hill's sitcom setup is appropriate and disconcerting, at points both obvious (animate drug containers that eventually kill Brown) and subtle (few of the subtitles match the lip-readings), and the song, as quick as it happens, leaves quite a mark. [8/10]

Scott Zuppardo: One of the darkest semi-star-studded videos I've ever seen. Chaotic production like when the anvil falls on Looney Tunes cartoons, Brown's bars are loaded, and Jonah Hill is a slick director. Who knew Xanax bars carried blades?!? [8/10]

SCORE: 8.14

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

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Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

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