Danny Brown Talks About the Advice Nas Gave Him While Crafting New Album 'uknowhatimsayin¿'
In an interview with Dazed, Danny Brown reflects on his artistic growth since 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition.
After a string of Detroit-centric underground classics like the Detroit State of Mind series, Hot Soup, and The Hybrid, Brown rose to prominence with XXX and Atrocity Exhibition, which leaned into his EDM and punk proclivities. These sonic choices coincided with a penchant for lyrical content that explored the depths of heavy drug usage. On uknowhatimsayin¿, Brown explains why he wanted to step away from the version of himself that drew these new listeners in.
“I don’t like being put in a box, so I wanted to tone down the drug content and the sexual content. We weren’t gonna have the high pitched voice that’s all crazy either. This one was about stripping away everything that Danny Brown is and to see if I am still dope. The new album is about stripping away everything that people expect from a Danny Brown album and to see if I can still be dope,” he told reporter Thomas Hobbs. “It’s like, yes I am motherfucker, because I can really rap, you know what I’m saying?”
He credits a conversation with Nas and his newfound partnership with Q-Tip for the new album following a bout with writer’s block after Atrocity Exhibition.
“I just couldn’t write,” he told Hobbs. “I kept doing all this shit that was supposed to awaken something inside of me. But the answer was a lot more obvious. I asked Nas for advice and he just said: “Stop thinking so hard and fucking rap! You already fucked it up with your thought process, so just make music.” I was like, “but what if I make a wack song?” And Nas was like: “Well, just make another one.” That really helped me.
“This was the least stressful album I’ve ever worked on. [Q-Tip] really taught me how to give more love and care to my music. You have all the time in the world to put music out, so why not make it perfect before actually releasing it? Before I used to try and catch lightning in a bottle and make up songs in five minutes, but with Tip, it’s like, I saw him working on one snare for six hours. It means you get a better end product.”
uknowhatimsayin¿ is available on all major streaming platforms.