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Still Dope Baby

19 November 2014 | 9:03 pm | Simone Ubaldi

Danny Brown on fighting the industry parasites

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Danny Brown broke through circa 2011 with XXX, a whip-cracked, 19-track ode to drugs and fucking that boasted an inimitable style, as slick as it was delirious. In 2013, he followed up with Old, stripping back the stoner party anthems for an introspective dig through the roughest and rowdiest episodes of his life, the album blowing up even bigger than the last. With a new record in the works and an Australian tour on the way, Danny Brown is on cruise control.

“I’ve relaxed a whole lot more now. I’m happy,” Brown says. “I didn’t have a lot of fun making Old and XXX. Both of those albums, my back was against the rope. With XXX, I was poor. I was not living the way I wanted to live and I was nearly thirty, and rap might have been over for me but I wasn’t going to give it up. With Old breaking, the pressures of, I don’t know… I don’t want to say celebrity but just people bothering me and stuff, working so much and being exhausted all the time, and I got addicted to syrup at that time… It was all too much, you know? That’s why Old was so reflective, because I was so fucked up. Old was the one where it was like, I might fuck this up. I had everything I wanted but I could lose it.”

When he was five, Brown stood before his kindergarten class and told them he was going to be rapper. He grew up listening to his dad’s house records, devoured Nas, Biggie and Wu-Tang albums in the ‘90s, then stumbled on Dizzy Rascal and the birth of Grime. Today, sporting asymmetrical hair, hipster swag and a truckload of war stories from his days on the streets, Brown’s kindergarten dream has become a reality. How did he cut through?

“It’s simple as hell – just gotta be dope baby,” Brown laughs. “I see people suck and fail all the time, and they disappear. Trust me. From the time I signed, everyone who was spinning around me, like the people who were my peer group, not many of them are still around. It’s all about you as a person. You have to be good at your craft and you want to perfect that and be a master, but at the end of the day your personality and your work ethic goes a long way too.”

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Brown’s advice to young rappers is appreciate your audience, never miss a flight and don’t mistake an enemy for a friend. “It’s all run by grown-ups. Some kid come along and make something hot, the old dog throw the kid on a remix or something and take their swag, then the trend is dead and the dog’s still living. You don’t never hear from that kid again. I tell kids all the time, once you come out and you get hot, don’t you let those old guys vamp you and use all your juice up. They’ll just suck you dry and leave you on the corner; then they’ll be onto the next remix.”