Splitting an album into two distinct halves is certainly a threat to cohesion, but the whole essence of Old’s productions is that it musically captures the personality of its own creator; it’s is an album in disarray.
Old’s first half is unrelentingly dark; Danny Brown commits to his deep, commanding voice and the likes of ‘Torture’, describes the vast amount of harrowing events that had become commonplace in his life. With Brown labelling ‘Old’ as his ‘Kid A’, it’s only right that the grittier, leftfield production excels. Like the abrasive beat of ‘Clean Up’ or ethereal ’25 Bucks’ – which features Purity Ring – fits comfortably on Side A due to its ominous ticking.
Returning to his deranged yelps, tracks like the siren synths and ferocious handclaps of the Rustie-produced banger ‘Side B [Dope Song]’ characterises Old’s second half. From the half point, Brown ramps up the littering of substance abuse and vulgar sex acts in his lyrics. Although this implies that his notorious party lifestyle is the kind of chaos he thrives on, his lyrics instead expose his hedonism as self-destruction to escape his personal demons, such as “All these drugs up in me, it’s a miracle I ain’t mirror Kurt” – a subtle reference to his own notions of suicide.
With a constant feeling that Danny Brown is about to break, Old is designed to soundtrack a breakdown in the same way it’s meant for a promising night out, and it’s that kind of juxtaposition makes Danny Brown one of the most tragic, and compelling characters in hip-hop right now.
Words by Connor Cass