Album Reviews

Album Review: Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿ (Warp)

Sam Smith

After hitting it out of the park with one of the best hip-hop albums of the decade in 2016, Detroit rapper Danny Brown has returned with yet another quality project that continues his strong sequence of albums going back to 2011’s XXX.

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U Know What I’m Sayin? maybe a shorter and more coherent project than the wild and ambitious Atrocity Exhibition, but it definitely does not lack any of the quality of the former when it comes to the music on display across the eleven tracks.

With regular producer Paul White on the beats and A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip executive producing, U Know What I’m Sayin? is a varied record stylistically with Brown’s quirky mad-man vocals bouncing along over the top of some stunningly good production, a production that also includes a guest appearance from Brainfeeder wizard Flying Lotus.

Brown, who I call the Tom Waits of hip-hop, shines throughout, with the highlights including his vocal performances on the likes of Best Life, Dirty Laundry, and Belly of The Beast.

Brown’s choice of featured vocalists also adds to the spark of the album with an all-star cast including the likes of Run the Jewels, JPEGMAFIA, and Blood Orange, all of whom go off on 3 Tearz, Negro Spiritual and Shine respectively.

In a rap world where artists can get stuck in a comfortable space leading to some predictable albums, Danny Brown has proven here that he moves to a different beat to most. His eclectic pallet and willingness to try anything when it comes to production and sound sets himself apart from his peers and shows he really is the chameleon of hip-hop.

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Yes, Atrocity Exhibition was a masterpiece in twenty-first-century rap and it was going to be very difficult to top it, but with U Know What I’m Sayin? Brown has gone close. Overall, the songs are just as good, while the production is world-class resulting in an album that cements Danny Brown’s legacy as one of the best artists in hip hop of his generation.


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Released: 04 Oct 2019

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.