Danny Brown is the yapping rapper hailing from Detroit, Michigan.
After his peculiar hair cut, missing front teeth and tight trousers cost him a deal with 50 Cent’s label G-Unit a few years back, Danny signed to the more open-minded Fool’s Gold and released a new (free!) album entitled ‘XXX’. Finally breaking out of the underground hip hop circuit at the ripe and ready age of 30 (amidst some comparison to various of-the-moment young buck rappers half his age), Danny says “I’m experienced in music and I took time to learn my craft. Most of ‘em are kids. I’ve been doing this longer than a lot of them have been living”. Danny raps about a variety of disturbing subject matters, all dialogue on his life experiences, and does it with his distinctive and somehow refreshing nasally shriek, adding yet another dimension to a very unconventional breed of rapper. After listening to XXX beginning to end on full blast, i-D online tracked down Danny Brown to talk Prince, Ghostface Killa and dental care.
Would you say that 30 is the new 20? I guess you could say that. I don’t think 30 should have ever been considered old.
What did you do for your 30th birthday? I was at South by Southwest doing shows.
Tell me about your upbringing in Detroit… It was pretty cool for me. I had young parents. My pops was 16 and my mom was 18 when they had me and they kind of sheltered us. I’ve got two younger brothers and a younger sister. My parents did whatever they possibly could to keep us in the house because it was really bad on the streets. I can’t really complain about my childhood.
As a child, who inspired to you become a rapper? As a kid I looked up to different rappers but I think Prince probably influenced me the most in terms of music. My mom watched Purple Rain and listened to Prince’s music religiously so he was the first person I saw who was out there wearing high heels! I wasn’t seeing anybody in my neighbourhood dressing like that and doing things like that. Prince made me want to be an artist, not necessarily a rapper but he’s the one that made me want to be involved with music.
What would you be doing if you weren’t making music? If it wasn’t music I’d still probably be doing something artistic where I could express myself, maybe fashion. Probably designing or styling.
Yeah, you don’t really look like your typical rapper. Tell me about your style… Like I said, it pretty much all came from Prince and just watching guys like him and even Bowie. In terms of hip hop, Ghostface Killah or someone like De La Soul when they first came along and even Andre 3000; these were the people whose images I was into. I just do what I feel. I don’t really think about it too much. People think “oh maybe I shouldn’t wear this, people might not like it” or “maybe people will think I’m gay” or something crazy like that – I don’t think like that I just wear what I want to wear.
Who are your style icons? Aside from Prince, Ghostface is definitely up there. When I was younger I used to watch the way Ghostface dressed and Karl Lagerfeld and Jeremy Scott. Anybody who is creative with the way they dress.
How did you lose your two front teeth? Are you ever going to get them fixed? I got hit by a car when I was younger and if I ever got some balling movie role that was down to pay for my teeth to get fixed, I would, but as of right now I have no plans to get them fixed. I’d rather buy gold chains than get my teeth fixed! No, I’d maybe get a gold grill or something to cover it up one day but nah I don’t think I want to fix them right now. I’m having too much fun.
Is it true that 50 cent decided against signing you because of your tight pants? Yeah that’s true. I get a lot of slack from guys but who cares about what a guy thinks? Girls like it, so I’m not trippin’.
How do you feel about the comparison to Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator? I don’t think we’re alike at all. He’s telling jokes and I’m telling the truth.
What are you working on at the moment? Right now I’m just preparing to go on this US tour with Das Racist. And I’m just working on a new album for next year.
XXX is out now!
Text: Hazel Ong