“I gotta figure it out,” Danny Brown yelps on ‘Atrocity Exhibition’’s opener, “It’s the downward spiral.” More than just a hark back to breakthrough record ‘XXX’, it’s a knowing nod to ‘Atrocity Exhibition’’s quick descent into the darker passages of Danny’s psyche.
Penned in the wake of the rocket-speed success brought about by 2013’s ‘Old’, ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ finds Danny Brown wrestling with his outsider status at all times. It manifests itself in multiple ways. Notably free of what most would consider a ‘beat’, Danny instead pours himself out onto everything from industrial clatter to psych-rock freakouts (‘Golddust’). Exuding confidence at every turn, his ability to wrangle any sound into his warped world of hip hop is exhilarating. For him, though, it sounds exhausting. “Tell me what I don’t know,” he demands on the track of the same name - a lifetime of dealing with life’s darker side, spat back at those in the scene who try to glamorise it.
Angsty and introspective though it may lyrically be, ‘Atrocity Exhibition’’s not without its lighter moments. ‘Really Doe’ is the closest he’s ever come to the ‘Radio Song’ he once snorted at, the pile-on of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt no doubt aiding Danny Brown’s sidestep into the mainstream. Elsewhere, though, it’s fidgety and anxious, much like Brown himself. Erratically darting between glitches and hard noise, swagger and panic attacks, Paul White’s production is pinned together by Danny’s equally uncontainable vocal.
As his unmistakeable half-screech pulls everything along, ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ proves itself to be Danny Brown’s masterstroke – a hip hop auteur like no other, it’s a record that does more than just pitch him just leagues ahead of anyone else in the game; it’s a portrait of a man who’s more than happy to invent a whole new one.