Danny Brown Fuses Electronic and Hip-Hop, Spurs a New Movement
Can you guess the MC? Detroit born rapper, Danny Brown, hops into the crowd while performing a track from his buzzing new album, Old. This is standard fare for Brown, as he steadily builds a reputation for wild live shows, spearheading a new movement in the process. He takes elements from classic hip-hop and blends them with rave culture to form an entirely new breed of rap, and he’s not alone. Does this trend have legs? Find out in our Picture of the Week.
Rave culture has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, thanks to the prevalence of electronic music (often confusingly labeled EDM). The movement borrows characteristics from the culture’s past and adds a modern twist, consequently spurring the use of the club drug “molly,” a pure form of MDMA. For better or worse, the trend has caught on, perhaps reaching a boiling point after this year’s disastrous Electric Zoo; the festival was forced to cancel it’s last day due to suspected overdoses of MDMA and sexual assault allegations among festival goers.
Time will tell whether this will affect the exponential growth of the genre, but let’s not focus solely on the negatives. Truth be told, raves are musical escapism at its finest, and Danny Brown capitalizes on this with a downright insane live show. It’s a wonder the brilliant mix of hip-hop and electronic culture has taken this long to congeal, as the two genres rely heavily on the same component—catharsis.
It’s what makes people mosh at shows; the ritual of “letting go” proves crucial to this movement. As most youth movements, it undoubtedly stems from unrest and angst, after all, times are tough for 20-somethings right now. Danny Brown gleefully adds all of this into the mix, while crowd-surfing above raging fans. He’s clearly having fun with his new-found fame, often sticking his tongue out in a signature pose à la Gene Simmons.
On Old, he dabbles in traditional hip-hop, which makes sense since the title is a tribute to the late rapper ODB (Wu-Tang homages seem to be trending these days). It’s a thrill to watch him transition from this style on “Side A,” to a complete rave “banger” on the trippy cut “Dip.” Brown’s eclectic taste plays into the overarching fusion that’s taking place in hip-hop.
For years, rap was missing a viable “underground,” but with artists like Brown, it’s finally arrived. TNGHT, A$AP Rocky, and Chance The Rapper, all continue to pave the way for this genre combination, and for the time being, it’s here to stay. The natural rhythm-centric physicality of the two genres meld into one, a hardened alloy of “of-the-moment” music. Danny Brown rises above it all with one finger raised, and urges us to just let go.