Detroit rapper Danny Brown embraced his unique hood/hipster personality, took full advantage of social media, and -- fueled by his experiences with drug dealing and drug taking, as well as a wicked sense of humor -- delivered some of the most vivid, vulgar, and side-splitting rhymes of his era. Brown (real last name: Sewell) surfaced during the mid-2000s as a member of Reser'vor Dogs. The group advanced far enough to get the attention of the Roc-A-Fella label. A deal was not struck, but an A&R rep assisted Brown with the recording and release of a mixtape, Detroit State of Mind. New York recording sessions placed him in the company of several contemporaries, including G-Unit's Tony Yayo. In 2010, Yayo and Brown released Hawaiian Snow, while Brown also released The Hybrid, among other mixtapes, such as additional volumes of the Detroit State of Mind series. While it was rumored that Brown would be signing to G-Unit, label head 50 Cent allegedly balked due to the rapper's fashion sense (which included a preference for skinny jeans).
Brown eventually found a home at Fool's Gold, where he issued XXX, his highest-profile mixtape up to that point. At the end of 2012, Brown announced that the follow-up to XXX had been recorded. Originally titled ODB, it was continually pushed back by the label, with Brown tweeting in August 2013 that he would consider leaking the release. In October, the retitled album, Old, appeared with guest appearances from A$AP Rocky and ScHoolboy Q. After he provided the theme for the U.S. television sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, Brown signed with Warp and made his label debut in 2016 with "When It Rain." The single's parent album, Atrocity Exhibition, was issued later in the year, with guest contributions from B-Real, Black Milk, and Kendrick Lamar. ~ Andy Kellman