Danny Brown isn't the same party kid he was when he first rose to fame, but he's fine delivering that era of himself to the crowd at Republic on October 16.
Danny Brown isn’t interested in proving his maturity. His most recent album, uknowhatimsayin¿, demonstrates a more mature Danny Brown. It shifts from a landscape rooted in drugs and partying, and it relies less on the flashy, urgent beats that defined his early career. The album seems unconcerned with getting listeners to dance, and instead feels more introspective. But that's not the Brown that showed up at Republic on October 16. Danny Brown wasn’t there to earn his crowd; he was there to satiate older fans that didn't come for the introspection.
Brown walked out onto the stage so casually that at first I mistook him for a soundtech. He wore a flannel and a baseball cap and strolled out with hardly any hype or production. He wasn’t trying to shock, and he wasn’t there to go wild. This look was more subdued look than some that he has crafted for himself in the past, which makes sense in relation to his newest album. He started his show with “Dirty Laundry,” which was the first single off of the album, and by the second song the crowd was moshing. It was a room full of college-aged white boys pushing each other around to a time-capsuled version of the artist in front of us. Brown seemed fully aware of this, and was fine delivering what they wanted.
The show wasn’t crafted in a particularly nuanced way. The screen behind him did minimal work, switching between his name and solid-colored screens. He moved through his albums in chunks and didn’t mix eras together. He performed “Side B [Dope Song]” followed by 3 other songs from Old, 5 songs from XXX, 4 songs from Atrocity Exhibition. This comprised most of the show, and the songs that he played from these albums were the songs the hypest ones he had. He closed it out with 3 songs from uknowhatimsayin¿ and had no encore at the end. The amount of time dedicated to his hype songs greatly outweighed the time dedicated to his introspective songs. His setlist was methodical, and he delivered his music in order of importance for the crowd in front of him.
Danny Brown has always been a favorite among white college kids. He raps about serious, personal things like addiction, partying, race, and fame, but that substance is overshadowed in a live setting by a crowd of people looking to experience something more visceral. These kids come to his shows looking less for nuanced hip-hop and more for a reason to throw their bodies into each other.
Each of his album’s is a more mature iteration of himself, but he’s also past proving that to his crowds. His first concern has always been to entertain, even when he’s getting personal. He crafts his albums to be fun and funny while also being serious and sad. Brown has a solid understanding of what his audiences want from him, and he’s always willing to deliver.