Danny Brown: The Last Rockstar?
By Andres Portillo
“Imma die like a rockstar,” Danny Brown, who performed last night at Webster Hall, croaks through damaged vocal chords on the second track off his critically acclaimed album XXX. In the background lurks a droning electronic beat. The whole song is basically oozing with grime, and he uses that ambiance to compare himself to the drug-addled likes of Chris Farley, Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Frankie Lymon, Jimmi Hendrix, John Belushi… you get it. He’s 35 years old, (30 at the time of the recording) but somehow, it doesn’t come off as corny. In fact, he makes you believe it. And in 2016, that’s a powerful thing to be able to do.
In an age of whack rappers who lie about their pasts and have to rent out cars for their music videos, Danny comes off as refreshingly honest. When you hear him rap about how he’s “just a dirty old man, with a pill in [his] mouth and [his] dick in [his] hand”. You’re just like, “YES DANNY,” ’cause even though that’s a disgusting picture, you know he’s being real with you.
But even then, when he comes out on stage, with his wild-ass hair and his toothless grin, you don’t really get the impression that this is a guy about as old as your mom’s little brother. In fact, it almost feels like he could even be yours. See, as the colored lights dance and his murky beats crawl, Danny relentlessly bounces. He’s the rap game’s Peter Pan — loaded with an infectious supply of youthful energy that, if just for a moment, turns you into one of his lost boyz.
The man is a rockstar.
My friend Raf attests that he’s the last one. My buddy Steve doesn’t even believe he exists. But I can tell you he’s real. And as for him being the last rockstar, I dunno. R. Kelly’s still around… but I wouldn’t be opposed to calling him the last active one.
Danny Brown’s third studio album, Atrocity Exhibition, is due for release on September 30th. You can listen to his latest track, “Really Doe” (Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, and Ab-Soul), here.
[Photos via author]