“Atrocity Exhibition” Advances the Sounds Developed in “XXX”
Issue   |   Tue, 10/04/2016 - 23:36
Danny Brown’s latest release “Atrocity Exhibition” features his signature fast-paced, penetrating vocals and booming sound, following his earlier releases suitably.

Danny Brown’s fourth studio album “Atrocity Exhibition” dropped on September 30 of this year, and it may be the most aptly named album of the year. Brown’s eccentric, piercing voice is as present on each track as it has been in the past, and the album itself recalls many of the same sounds present on his second studio album, “XXX”. A noticeable change, however, is the feature list. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt all guest star on the stand-out single “Really Doe,” a riding, aggressive anthem which should be played at any and all pre-games everywhere. The song is blatantly a challenge to all of Brown’s haters, with each verse hanging on the line “I wish a motherf*cker would,” followed by Kendrick’s classic mid range voice belting the chorus “I ain’t boomin’; that’s a g*ddamn lie.” Brown and company clearly put their opponents in place. The choice to have Earl Sweatshirt rap the final verse is certainly an interesting one. Most would put Kendrick in the obvious celebrity of the features, as the finale, but Brown places Sweatshirt at the end. This is oddly reminiscent of ASAP Rocky’s track “F*ckin Problems,” where Rocky places Kendrick at the anchor slot after Drake. Kendrick was still up and coming at the time, having just released his first solid album, and Rocky wanted to let Lamar have the last word even though Drake was a much bigger star. Now Brown does the same on “Really Doe,” making one wonder about the future of Earl Sweatshirt.

The rest of “Atrocity Exhibition” can best be described as the feeling one gets while listening to a plane crash, in a way that’s both captivating and repulsive. The album opens with “Downward Spiral,” which uses a driving blues rhythm that often overpowers Brown’s vocals. It aptly leads into “Tell Me What I Don’t Know,” a track that feels like a spiritual rock song. Brown chooses to go with a lower pitch, slower pace for his vocals, so that the entire song blends together. This is in stark contrast to his typical style, which is often blaringly contrasted with the beat. He interchanges styles throughout the album, but as the tracks progress, he becomes vibrantly aggressive in both tone and beat. The blaring horns coupled with Brown’s fast-paced, high-pitched rapping on “Ain’t It Funny” disorients the listener and feels like the audio equivalent of doing cocaine, especially with the dramatic crash at the end. This leads excellently into “Golddust,” which could be named “Ain’t It Funny Pt. 2.” Other “bangers” on the album are “Pneumonia,” “Dance in the Water” and “When It Rain.” These three booming, speedy tracks are split up by “From the Ground,” a slow, soft track that discusses Brown’s feelings for his city and his thoughts on where he would be without his fame. He appropriately has Kelela sing the delicate chorus on this track, which is staunchly contrasted to the lyrics themselves. The entire song feels like a break from Brown’s aggressive style, and gives the listener a chance to catch their breath before plunging them back into the loud, fast beat of “When It Rain.”

As for content, “Atrocity Exhibition” shares quite a bit with “XXX”. Brown, when you can keep up with him, discusses party life, Detroit violence and his own personal struggles. However, the content is quite secondary when it comes to Brown, and it is often incredibly difficult to keep up with his absurd pace. He hits all the content marks he set on “XXX “and increases the pace and violence on many of the tracks, a fitting addition to his discography.