Atrocity Exhibition ReviewSwagFlicks Genres: Hardcore Hip Hop, Industrial Hip Hop, Experimental Hip Hop, Abstract Hip Hop
Best songs: When It Rain, Ain't It Funny, Golddust, Pneumonia, Really Doe
Worst song: Get Hi
Yeah, this is easily one of the best albums of 2016. No question about it.
I first heard of Danny Brown through a likely source, when he was featured on Eminem's Detroit Vs. Everybody. Oddly enough, I liked his nasal flow and incredibly descriptive lyrics about the struggles of Detroit, and I thought he had easily one of the best verses on the song. But I never checked him out after the song was over. Maybe it had something to do with me essentially worshiping Eminem back then, maybe I was musically ignorant and didn't want to expand my taste. It really doesn't matter which one it was, I was a STUPID child back then. Anyways, a little bit after this album was released, I was asked to listen to this album by a friend. Myself knowing who Danny Brown was, I decided to take a listen to the album. And you know what? I dug it. It was great for what it was, but there were some aspects that didn't click with me. But for the most part, it was a well-produced, well-crafted album.
Now, taking a look back at it today, I can safely say it's one of the best rap albums this decade has produced.
First off, let me say how f*cking amazing Paul White is at producing. Sure, there's parts on the album where he doesn't make the beat, like on Really Doe, which has a quick and frantic beat courtesy of Black Milk; the obvious Madlib-influenced beat Playa Haze provides on Lost; and the extremely druggy vibe The Alchemist gives us on White Lines; but they're complete garbage compared to the music Paul White gives us. Not discrediting those track's production or anything, it's just that Paul White gives us better production. And boy, I'm glad he does. Because not only is his production great, it's the best I've heard on a rap album this decade. I mean, when he's not making frantic glitch hop beats like on When It Rain or cloud rap beats on Get Hi, he's taking post-punk elements (obviously influenced by Joy Division) and combining them with industrial hip-hop beats to create this wild, surreal, and druggy vibe. Like on Golddust, which samples Embryo's People From Out the Space, White utilizes that sample to create this wild, druggy atmosphere; with horns, drums, and sound effects building and building to this release point between verses. There's also Dance In The Water, which has this awesome pseudo-tribal beat, and this epic buildup in the hook that makes you just wile the f*ck out. And then there's my personal favorite beat on the record, which comes from Ain't It Funny. It has this massive barrage of horns with the kick drum coming in heavy and this single horn just coming out and stealing the show. It's a masterful beat, and easily one of the best of the year. Overall, the production is amazing, and even though Paul White steals the show here, the other beats are great.
When I look around the internet, I seem to see people saying that Danny Brown has irritating vocals. And to be fair, I can see where they're coming from. His voice is high-pitched, and I can see why people can't get behind that. But you know what? I don't care, because he perfectly (in my opinion) imitates what it's like to be f*cked up on drugs. It has this incredibly loose and off-of-it vibe, which makes sense, because he describes doing sh*t that makes him off his rocker. Like on Ain't It Funny, he raps with this quick, frantic, and wild flow, essentially inferring that he's f*cked up hard. It reaches a climax in the third verse, when he both literally and figuratively slips and slides over the beat. Or how about Pnuemonia, where he contrasts his troublesome yells with this calm word-by-word flow. Then there's his flow on the opener, Downward Spiral, where he sounds like he just got into a new high. Overall, it's a real, yet interesting sight into the mind of a druggie.
Then... there's the lyrics. This is where Danny hits his stride, because the lyrics are easily some of the least appealing when it comes to them being drug-themed. Yes, he does rap about taking them, but it never comes off that he's glamorizing them; it comes off that he's actively being destroyed by them. Like on Downward Spiral, he mentions that he's paranoid, he's been stuck in this room for three days, and that he tried to f*ck this bitch with a softie. But that's obviously not the highlight of his imagery, as on the tracks Ain't It Funny and Golddust, he mentions his nose "bleeding red carpets" due to excessive cocaine intake and that he's an octopus in a straitjacket; as well as his mind being so f*cked up, being something that might scar you for life, but he invites you to take a look inside it, mirroring Ian Curtis' hook on Atrocity Exhibition. But it's not all drug use, as on Dance In The Water, it's just Danny telling you to get up and dance, and on When It Rain, it's a all too real look into the dangers that Detroit holds. It's a reality check for those who were unaware of the reality, you could say.
Overall, this is a masterful project, and an easy 10/10. If you want wild, experimental production rapped over by a guy who matches that production both vocally and lyrically; check this album out. Otherwise, don't.
This is SwagFlicks, and The Low End Theory is coming up next.
For the least appealing bit, I'm only saying that because doing drugs that can screw up your body badly should never be glamorized. Danny does the most logical thing and makes their use seem as unappealing as possible.
Just to clear up confusion. - SwagFlicks
That first full paragraph describes me entirely.
Also, great review for a great album. - WonkeyDude98
Nice review - ProPanda
This album was the surprise of the year for me. I was hearing some hype about this album and how Danny Brown's new album will be AOTY. So, I decided to check this guy out. I listened to the single Really Doe because it has some familiar faces like Kendrick (who's 2015 album was a surprise as well) and it grew on me pretty fast. Needlessly to say this album was dark, gritty, unique and an absolute blast. I agree, 10/10 for sure. - cjWriter1997