We spoke to Danny Brown about partying, parenthood and being Daniel Brown.
If there's one thing 50 Cent probably regrets, it's passing up the chance to sign Danny Brown. Rumour has it 50 didn't like the Detroit rapper's skinny jeans. And while his album release schedule may not be as tight as his trousers, Brown has still managed to forge a reputation as one of the wildest and most charismatic party boys in music.
NOISEY recently caught up with Brown, who promised there is a new album on the way. He's already back hitting stages, including an Australian tour in late April and Lollapalooza come July. We chatted to Brown about his party days, the deep bonds he shares with A$AP Mob and the Black Hippy crew, and the importance of simply being Daniel Brown to his family and friends.
Noisey: Vic Mensa said that a night out with you in Paris was his wildest night ever.
Danny Brown (laughing): I don‘t remember that so it’s probably true. At this point everybody has their own Danny Brown story but it’s better if they tell it because I can get out of my mind on tour and there’s no recollection.
In 2011 you said, "People think my life is just non-stop orgies with crackheads, and it kind of is." Is that still your life?
(laughing) No, no. I bought a house a few years ago and my daughter lives with me now. She’s in high school so the partying and wildness has totally calmed down. I’m Daddy Brown but touring is another world. Devilish things happen on tour.
Does your daughter like your music or is she more into Rihanna?
She actually loves K-Pop. It makes me feel like an old man as I can’t name one of the groups or songs, but she is always playing it.
How is your childrens book about self-love for young black girls coming along?
I’m still working on it. I bit off more than I could chew at the time and maybe announced that one a little early...I was so excited about the idea. I want to have my own children’s book company but maybe that’s after rap, the next chapter.
You started rapping in kindergarten. Are rappers born or can it be taught?
Honestly you can learn and I feel like there is a generation of kids now who are good at alot of things and they just rap without really thinking about it or an awareness of how ‘good’ they are. Of course we know the difference between greatness and mediocre but the culture is at a point where it likes and accepts average.
Do you consider yourself an alternative rapper or is it problematic to make that divide?
I do consider myself alternative. My music is not what you hear on the radio everyday or what the common rapper is trying to do. I’m on my own highway, my own lane and I’m so comfortable with that I love it there, no one is around. It provides space and opportunity for me.
You’re honest about poverty and politics in your music. You’ve said that money doesn’t move you. What does move you?
My family. I’m 35 next week and as you grow older, spending time with family and being able to care for them means everything. I’m Daniel with them, I’m not Danny Brown and if someone I care about calls me and they need something, I’ll do whatever I can to make it happen.
Would your career be different if you’d blown up in your early 20s?
Of course I wouldn’t be here! (laughing) I’m very immature, I’m the first to admit that I’m a 35-year old 13-year old. In my 20s there would have been no way I could handle what I go through on a daily basis in this industry, I take it as a blessing that I broke in at the age I did because I was ready to handle things….I’ve kind of lived three different lives and I had to live the first two to get to now.
You’re close with the Black Hippy crew and A$AP Mob. Is that true friendships or just business?
TRUE! We are really good friends, when I go to LA the first thing I do is go to Schoolboy Qs house and A$AP Ferg was at my house the other day. We are family. With other rappers they just want to go into the studio and talk rap but with us we just talk and laugh and go see a movie. We’ve been hanging out for so long now and we all come up at the same time and could understand what everyone was going through and take time out together.
I read that your Dad did not allow you to dress corny when you were a kid?
(laughing) That’s true he wouldn’t allow me to wear any of the trends, I wasn’t even allowed to own Cross Colours. My Dad would strictly have me in Polo and Hilfiger, I need to get all the photographs from my Mum.
You were part of the recent Yam$ Day tribute concert, I feel like he would have loved you what was your relationship like?
Very early on we had started following each other on social media and when I came up to New York we were all hanging out in the same circles. Yams was just this little genius, like I thought I knew about rap but he was an encyclopaedia and such a super fan, he just loved the music so much.