Live Review

Danny Brown, KOKO, London

With his rhymes hitting the crowd right square in the teeth, his accuracy is simply alarming.

Danny Brown is an artist who prides himself on the variety found in his music, frequently referring to himself as ‘The Hybrid’; but his live shows have never really showcased that. With the recent outing of his struggle with depression, and his continuing attempts to stay off drugs, it seems about time that he brought his extroverted introspection to the stage. Regardless of the circumstances present, his show at KOKO represents an unwavering commitment to his ecstasy-induced escapism, refusing to tap into the crushing lows found on the first half of his latest record, ‘OLD’.

Tonight is about being pumped, despite a slight reservation on Brown’s face as he initially takes to the stage. He’s no drug-riddled mess, and this is evident as soon as he opens his mouth. With his rhymes hitting the crowd right square in the teeth, his accuracy is simply alarming. It’s not until he realises that the energy of the crowd is the only drug he needs, that he truly starts to open up and fully embrace his tactile debauchery. Working the crowd with nothing more than hand gestures and shockingly on-point delivery, his set makes the most of one of his extremes, whilst dipping a toe in the other.

Never delving too far into his fear of losing it all, the set comprises mostly of songs built around the substances he used to escape the harsh realities of his troubled life. The slight disconnect is felt all the way until he brings out Scrufizzer for ‘Dubstep’. He’s mostly rapping about his highs, when he’s made it obvious he’s currently on one of his lows. With the cognitive dissonance only shifting during his loving tribute to cunnilingus ‘I Will’, his music and performance remains as easy to enjoy as it always has done, but grows increasingly questionable as each song progresses.

No doubt does he understand that what he’s rapping about doesn’t fully represent what he wants to be anymore, but he maintains his energy throughout. With the exception of his brief encore of ‘Bruiser Brigade’, very few moments made it hard to not care about his desire for maturation. If you ignore for a moment that Danny Brown wants to move past his shtick, then his set tonight proves he can still put on a show regardless of whether he’s high or sober. But let it be known, ‘The Hybrid’ he is not.

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