By Ben Crais
In his first album since 2011’s XXX, Danny Brown has crafted one of the
most harrowing, personal statements likely to be heard in 2013, rap or otherwise.
At its core, Old is a record about drug abuse, beginning with stories of the junkies he encountered as a child to his own history as a drug dealer and, finally, as a rapper famous for his Molly usage.
The drug-fueled party tracks of the album’s Side B are immediately exhilarating but take a darker turn upon closer inspection: Brown throws up in hotel bathrooms, gets too fucked up to speak to his daughter and constantly glances over his shoulder at the problems he’s running from. Like in XXX, the threat of overdosing looms over the album, culminating in his wish to live long enough to see “his influence on this genre of music.”
Vividly detailed and sonically diverse, with everything from traditional boom-bap to UK grime, Old may very well be this year’s best rap album.