ACL Artist Spotlight: Danny Brown

Growing up, we’re often asked the question: who do you want to be when you grow up? For most, the answer to this question changes with age yet some individuals never lose their affinity for their childhood dream careers. Danny Brown is one of them.

From the moment he started talking, he spoke in rhymes – having been influenced by his mother’s reading of Dr. Seuss. With a natural musical ear like his, Brown could have easily been a child prodigy rapper and though now regarded as one of rap’s most unique artists, his career didn’t take off immediately.

Growing up in Detroit with young parents helped develop his sense of musical identity. His father was a house DJ who introduced him to the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Ice-T and Wu-Tang Clan. He lived on the West Side of Detroit and his grandmother worked for Chrysler, so for most of his childhood he grew up away from the gangster East Side, spending money on shoes and clothes, instead of guns and chains. His family tried their best to keep him off the streets but one extreme led to the other and soon he wouldn’t come home for days at a time, which then led to years of hardships and wild times.

Despite that, Danny Brown never put aside music. He trained his ear and learned song structure by listening to East Coast rappers like Nas, distinctly different labels like Def Jux (now known as Definitive Jux) and Grime, and even rock bands like Korn.

Soon, he decided to take music seriously and after getting out of jail in 2007 knew it was time to seize the opportunity. This led to his first album The Hybrid (2010), during which he discovered his signature high-pitched voice and the emotional expressions he wanted his music to contain. This led to him signing with Fools Gold.

His subsequent album, XXX (2011) showcased Danny Brown’s talent. The album, titled after his age at the time, was experimental in the sense of how far he could push his listeners. Production was handled by big names like Frank Dukes, Brandun DeShay and Nick Speed. It was named best hip-hop album of the year by Spin and Pitchfork gave it an 8.2. In 2013, Old came out with featured artists like Freddie Gibbs, Schoolboy-Q, Ab-Soul and Purity Ring, and debuted at number 17 on the US Billboard 200.

In June 2016 Danny Brown signed with Warp Records and went on to produce his fourth and most recent album Atrocity Exhibition, which has gotten widespread acclaim and put him on his current tour, The Exhibition.

Catch him performing at ACL on Sunday both weekends October 6-8 and 13-15. Purchase tickets here.

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