The first time I heard the street shrill squawk of Danny Brown was over a Black Milk beat â€” years before the 2010 breakout, â€œBlack and Brown.â€ In 2008, an unknown Detroit emcee named Danny Brown appeared on Elzhiâ€™s The Preface posse cut â€œFire RMXâ€ produced by, you got it, Black Milk. A few years later, Black Milk would produce Danny on Nametagâ€™s â€œAt Itâ€, as well as three tracks for Brownâ€™s Detroit State of Mind 4, one of which (â€œLOLâ€) now has a fancy new beat on the duoâ€™s EP. But last September was the true Danny Brown coming out party. And leave it to Black Milk to once again be behind the boards (and on the mic) on the Song of the Year deserving and EP-inspiring, â€œBlack and Brownâ€ off last yearâ€™s questionably titled, Album of the Year.
It seemed at the time that every head you spoke to was saying the same thing â€” â€œYou hear that Danny Brown verse on the new Black Milk? Dude kills it.â€ Different person, same story â€” Danny Brown this, Danny Brown that. But since Album of the Yearâ€™s release, Brown hasnâ€™t looked back; heâ€™s been one busy dude. And with every move he makes, he seems to grow on you even more â€” like a high-pitched, foul-mouthed, toothless fungus. But damn can that fungus rap.
Fourteen months following Black and Brownâ€™s blogosphere takeover, two of Detroitâ€™s finest deliver the Black and Brown EP; ten songs (two old, three instrumental) in under 23-minutes. In reality, those 23 minutes could never live up to the endless Internet buzz it received and they donâ€™t. Now I didnâ€™t say the record is bad, because itâ€™s not. It just doesnâ€™t live up to the Dickensian great expectations set by bloggers solely based off B&Bâ€™s title track and first leak, â€œZap.â€ But who cares? Itâ€™s a damn Hip Hop EP â€” only five new songs. Sure, I hope they put in a little more effort on a full-length if that happens, but for now, such expectancy over a Hip Hop EP slapped together off a beloved blog banger just seems silly.
Kicking off with â€œSound Checkâ€, a schizophrenic Black Milk â€˜instromentalâ€™ that segues smoothly into the first of six consecutive new tracks featuring the one and only Danny the Hybrid. First, we get â€œWake Upâ€, a chill-wave beat (Dilla-esque) and Hip Hop cuts interspersed with a mellowed Danny flow wising up listeners that there are only, â€œTwo things for certain â€” thatâ€™s death and taxes.â€ Then thereâ€™s â€œLoosieâ€, one funky ass, bass-hum heavy joint, â€œHotter than a barbecue at Satanâ€™s place.â€ But the true standout of Black and Brown and my personal favorite beat is â€œZap.â€ The song rides an eerie sound wave of synth loops, sped-up vocal samples and Brown at his swaggest. Thereâ€™s also something inherently Hip Hop about this futuristic synth-soul phantasmagoria.
â€œJordan VIIIâ€, in all its brevity, displays the Hybrid over a spacey Tronic-sounding beat boasting classic Danny Brown head-turners like, â€œThis bitch told me I need my teeth fixed/I said, â€˜Nah hoe, thatâ€™s perfect for lickinâ€™ clits.â€ In just a minute and a half, Brown shows off some of his best wordplay, effortlessly meshing sports references with drug slang: â€œThe only time Reggie on the Knicks/When you go to the corner, say lemme get a nick.â€ Black steals the spotlight on â€œDadaâ€, with its simple guitar and vocal looped samples reminiscent of his production style on Popular Demand.
Black finally picks up the mic (for exactly six seconds) on â€œWTFâ€, Black and Brownâ€™s second of three instrumentals. While I love the new beat to one of Black and Brownâ€™s earliest collaborations, â€œLOLâ€, Iâ€™m curious… if they wanted to reuse a song, why not the Danny Brown-featured, â€œJahphy Joe,â€ off Black Milkâ€™s Random Axe project? Regardless, the new beat buries any memory of the original while retaining Brownâ€™s crazy catchy, Internet-shorthand chorus, â€œI text back, L-O-L/If it ainâ€™t about money, T-T-Y-L.â€ The last of the new tracks (and Black Milk instrumentals) is â€œDark Sunshineâ€, a minute long Eastern-influenced instrumental (if looped) to vibe to. I wouldnâ€™t be shocked to hear this unconventional beat on a Stones Throw or Warp releaseâ€¦ but Fat Beats? The track could also fit perfectly on the next Das Racist album. And if anyone can connect those two (Black Milk and Das Racist) polar opposite Hip Hop entities, itâ€™s Danny Brown.
And then there was â€œBlack and Brownâ€, still one of the best tracks of Blackâ€™s career and the song that jumpstarted Brownâ€™s. After schooling Black on his own track, Brown officially crossed over. His career no longer loomed in the irrelevant shadow of Tony Yayo and skinny jeans judging, money-hungry studio execs. Brown made his name in the game off a guest spot so memorable, this Hip Hop head holds it alongside Nasâ€™ eminent â€œLive at the BBQâ€ debut. While Nas dropped jaws in â€™91 for snuffing Jesus, I still to this day shake my head in disbelief at Brownâ€™s line, â€œThick white bitch slurp a nigga like Kirby.â€
Black and Brownâ€™s production isnâ€™t Black Milkâ€™s most cohesive collection and Iâ€™m going to assume Brownâ€™s lyrics were predominantly written prior to XXXâ€™s next level material. But for a twenty minute half-assed collection of stoned studio sessions, thereâ€™s little negative to point out here and infinite positives to look forward to. Black and Brown was severely overhyped but Black and Brown the duo remains something that Hip Hop can be excited about for years to come â€” hopefully with more of a Detroit presence next time around.
Black & Brown