Published Sep 29, 2016On Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown is better than he's ever been. Like its title implies, the album is disorderly and unkempt, but don't despair — Brown is very deliberate in his deviance, and the risks pay off.
Although Brown has always coloured outside of the lines with regards to his sound, Exhibition flips between genres at such a quick pace that it's hard to categorize. It's a hodgepodge of hip-hop, punk, grime and even faint hints of disco, and each track is a vast departure from the one before it. But despite the jumble, Brown's measured delivery and controlled vocals act as an anchor and keep the record cohesive. Exhibition is a roller-coaster ride with many twists and turns, but Brown expertly plays seat belt.
Featuring favourites like Black Milk, Alchemist and long-time collaborator Paul White, Exhibition's production is stellar; each beat is a supporting character. On "Downward Spiral," Brown recounts his regretful decisions from the night before as lazy drums and slothful guitars underscore him like two foggy, hungover comrades. On "When It Rain," Brown, the menacing bass and slapdash percussion team up to terrorize everyone in the club. On "From the Ground," the beat is a patient priest listening on as Brown confesses his sins. Most rappers simply ride beats, but Brown truly befriends them — he doesn't perform, but rather lets listeners in on an intimate conversation between him and the music.
Overall, Atrocity Exhibition is chewy and eclectic, a rich experience that reveals a new surprise with each listen. Years from now, there will still be goodies to unpack. (Warp)