Since releasing his debut album, The Hybrid, almost a decade ago, Danny Brown insists he has learned “the science of rapping” — the Detroit native has landed a top 20 album on the Billboard 200 and two top fives on the Top Rap Albums chart.
But for his fifth album, uknowhatimsayin¿, out Oct. 4 on Warp, Brown, 38, wanted to change up his formula. So he enlisted A Tribe Called Quest’s Q?Tip to executive-produce — something the legend hasn’t done since 2014. “It was almost like I was an actor in a movie,” says Brown of working with Q?Tip. “I just had to show up and know my lines.”
How did working with Q?Tip change your approach to crafting an album?
Tip is a person who turns over every stone when it comes to making a song — he pays very close attention to details and tries out a lot of different things. Me? I just try to catch lightning in a bottle. I’m not rewriting shit. For this album, though, “Theme Song,” for example — we probably recorded that one over 300 times. And I didn’t get it right until the last week before it was about to go into mastering.
Whose style do you prefer?
I don’t know, but I told Tip: “Now it’s forever with us — you can’t leave me now!” Because just like in Pretty Woman, he can’t just be taking me to the nice stores and having me try on nice dresses and high heels and then be putting me back on the street. Fuck that! I’m trying to start on the next album with him as soon as possible because I know we both like to take a lot of time.
You’re playing 1,000-capacity venues beginning next month. How are you preparing mentally and physically?
I’m getting older, so I have to take care of myself. With touring there’s always going to be a lot of drinking and eating shitty food, so I start conditioning myself three months out. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’ve burned out on the road before — you’ll be going to do the show, and it’ll be the last thing you want to do that day. So right now, it’s just about taking care of myself — and getting the set tight.
Outside of music, you have your own Viceland show, Danny’s House. Why is that a good outlet for you?
I’ve been goofy all my life. Even when I was in jail, or selling drugs and doing terrible things, I was still cracking jokes and laughing too much. I’ve just always been that way. People look at life like they can’t do certain things or it will affect their street credibility or their image, but I’ve never been like that — I just like to have fun.