‘Old’ is an instant crowd pleaser. At times genuinely insightful, accompanied by intelligent production. At others, mindless and shamelessly club pleasing. Harboured in these 19 tracks there’s something to please every school of hip hop thought.
Eponymous opener ‘Old’ is an excellent example of Danny Browns ability to rap, paving the way for the impending exhibit of the many faces of our protagonist. Borderline industrial beats thundering under spacey textures, the first of several appearances from producer Paul White, whose contributions always make for high points in the album. ‘The Return’ should please 90’s purists, vinyl crackles, with vocal flows, samples and a bass line echoes of early RZA. ‘25 Bucks’ features Purity Ring and consists of some seriously dark and sinister timbres. Danny’s story telling through his ever evolving flow is astoundingly displayed and it makes for a really strong track. Quickly contrasted by ‘Wonderbread’, without a doubt the strangest and most elusive track on this album. Imagine listening to a Danny Brown song while simultaneously watching the magic roundabout on acid and you’re more or less spot on.
‘Torture’ is the perfect midpoint between the two halves of the album, a mix of warped production and commercial possibility, a brilliant melodic intense intro with samples that could’ve come straight from ‘College Dropout’s evil modern cousin. ‘Clean Up’ is a gem. Insightful, painfully honest lyrics over distant vocoded vocals and an almost tribal beat. A stand out track that instantly disarms with its honesty. ‘Side B (dope)’ unfortunately opens with the kind of non convincing thin midi string sections that could’ve opened ‘Cannibal: The Musical’ but dropping into a minimal, near trap beat under Danny’s sinister story telling building into the chest punching chorus of simply the words “dope song” makes for some serious club potential.
In spite of its title, ‘Dubstep feat Scruffizer’ is a really strong track. Strong lyrical flow, with the mix of high level of intelligence and slang Danny brown fans have come to expect, fleshed out by some nearly Pogo esque timbres and frequent 808 snares. ‘Dip’ is Bound to become a staple of Danny’s live show and will no doubt remain a crowd pleaser long into his career. The insightful, intelligent side Danny can so masterfully muster is totally lost on ‘Handstand’ however fans of chart hip hop should go apeshit for it with it’s turn-up-friendly production courtesy of Darq E Freaker.
‘Way Up Here’ boasts the second TDE feature, this time the immeasurably well versed Ab Soul. This track further embodies the second half of the album, intelligent writers using a stock beat and writing bars that are far less unique than they’re capable of writing.
All in all an album with more highs than lows. Brown has proved the two branches of his rap persona just as he did on ‘XXX’ so it is built to split opinion. You’ll be pushed to find someone who loves every single cut on ‘Old’ but Danny probably knows this. One thing is for sure, the cartoony caricature of Danny Brown that’s been the antithesis to rap culture for the last couple of years has proved he has some serious muscles to flex.
Words: Jake Williams