Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Danny Brown makes his return with ‘Quaranta’

Brown returns with his first solo album in four years
‘Quaranta’ album art by Jawad Moody, Courtesy of Pitchfork
‘Quaranta’ album art by Jawad Moody, Courtesy of Pitchfork

Danny Brown released his sixth studio album and his final release with Warp Records, “Quaranta,” on Nov. 17. The 11-track LP features guest artists like Bruiser Wolf, Kassa Overall and MIKE, as well as a wide array of producers like The Alchemist and Quelle Chris. “Quaranta” is a contemplative reflection on the rapper’s growth through personal battles and persisting social issues in America.

“Quaranta,” meaning the number forty in Italian, signifies  Brown’s age in 2021, when the album was recorded. The album is described as a ‘spiritual bookend’ to his 2011 release “XXX,” which previously commemorated his thirtieth birthday. The rapper’s previous solo album, “uknowwhatimsayin¿,”was released in 2019. Earlier this year, he released the critically acclaimed collaborative LP, “SCARING THE HOES” with JPEGMAFIA.

Brown’s extensive discography illustrates the rapper’s growth through music, presenting his personal development through genre bending styles across each release. Brown has become a unique core figure in the modern hip-hop realm, constructing innovative styles and themes that highlight his distinctive flow and captivating aesthetic.

“Quaranta” portrays Brown’s perspective on his battles with drug addiction, his traumatic youth, his personal development, gentrification, the drug epidemic and other current social issues. The 33-minute album is undoubtedly short, but remarkably coherent and straight to the point. The self-aware album reflects Brown’s process of maturity and growth.

The album’s title track sets the mellow tone of the entire album. The mesmerizing sampling of the guitar’s melody illustrates an ominous tone of Brown’s genre-defining style. The rapper’s moody and mature lyrical contemplation paints the rapper’s direct reflection of the past ten years following “XXX”’s release.

“Tantor,” the first single released for “Quaranta” triumphantly exhibits The Alchemist’s production skills and Brown’s iconic lyricism. The thundering sample introducing the track is reminiscent of MF DOOM’s iconic sampling of superhero clips, heroically introducing the rapper’s long-awaited comeback. “Tantor” is heavily layered, making the track entertaining to listen to and emphasizing Brown’s iconic flow.

“Jenn’s Terrific Vacation,” the second single to drop from the album, showcases Brown’s ability to illustrate his lyrics and raise awareness to social issues. The track’s title is a play on the word gentrification itself. Rapping over an eerie piano instrumental and unexpected beat, Brown details the shifts gentrification has brought to his city. The intense drum fills performed by Kassa Overall focus the listener’s attention on the rapper’s dizzying lyrics. “Jenn’s Terrific Vacation” had the potential to be the strongest track on “Quaranta” but failed to display Brown’s emotional connection to the subject because the lyrics are so straightforward and detached.

“Celibate” is a standout track on the album, featuring the strongest verse on the album by emerging rapper MIKE. “Celibate” reflects on Brown’s personal life, rather than political themes, as the rapper contemplates his romantic relationships and his battle through drug addiction. Ultimately, leading him to a celibate lifestyle.

“Quaranta” is Brown’s most introspective release yet, a stark contrast to the upbeat, cynical and catchy tone of his previous releases. The album has an overall isolated and reflective tone which is inherently mellow compared to his previous releases. “Quaranta” is more of an update on the rapper’s current lifestyle, rather than a sequel to his iconic album “XXX.” “Quaranta” feels like a lonesome therapy session, contrasting the chaotic and rock star tone set in “XXX.”

Unfortunately, “Quaranta” isn’t nearly as innovative as his previous releases, yet it still offers a critical perspective through a time of heightened ignorance to social issues. Even though Brown is not a political rapper, he still does a great job of presenting the intensity of the topics. Throughout “Quaranta,” the rapper utilizes his unique style to deliver clever lyrics which amplify attention on larger social issues.

The album reflects Brown’s process of learning from his mistakes and redefining his harmful past through a somber reflection of his growth in maturity and lyrical complexity.

Brown has announced that his future work will be released under Bruiser Brigade Records. A tour commemorating “Quaranta” is yet to be announced.

Crissy Saucier can be reached at [email protected].

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