Brown is in his own realm.
After a three-year wait, Danny Brown’s new album uknowhatimsayin¿ has producer Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest doing his best to carve a new sound for Brown to ride on. The results are mostly mixed.
Brown’s music exists in this freeform state where all beats are on the table. This idea works when Brown is locked in with an engaging, head-bopping flow like on the lead singles ‘Dirty Laundry’ and ‘Best Life’.
The first of the two has a jumpy, analog beat that sounds like it was taken straight from an arcade game. It’s one of the year’s best songs, while ‘Best Life’ is an unusually optimistic piece on doing your best.
‘Combat’ is a fine jazzy closer, with chopped up trumpets chirping in the background, though the album’s most intoxicating moment has to be ‘Shine’, featuring Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. It’s this hazy, dreamy track which completely swallows everything around it.
Most of the album’s collaborations are enjoyable, still, I wish the instrumentals backing Brown and guests were more exciting. They lack the punch one expects from Danny Brown. Add the track ‘Theme Song’ to my list of complaints, too. There are some funny bars, but most of the song is sleep-inducing.
Overall, uknowhatimsayin¿ is an uneven album that does well most of the time. It does feel like a step backward from 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition, Brown’s best album to date. However, this is a worthy addition to Brown’s sound that is still miles ahead of mainstream rap’s biggest stars.