April 21, 2014

Danny Brown at the Haunt: Cool Ranch Doritos and Classic Hip-Hop

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Chances are pretty good that if, at some point Friday night, you screamed out “Cool Ranch Doritos” with several hundred of your closest friends in reference to the smell of “stank pussy,” you were seeing Danny Brown at The Haunt. The one of a kind Detroit MC, in the midst of his Old Tour, brought plenty of energy, some outlandish clothing and his impressive array of songs to Ithaca. Along with DJ Skywlkr and openers ZelooperZ and Bodega Bamz, he presented an exciting, energy-packed show to the at-capacity venue.

Opener ZelooperZ, in tight silver leather pants and a matching hat, started things off well. While certainly the least known of the three acts, he does have an appearence credit on Danny’s “Kush Koma” and came out with the intention of seeing everyone turnt (I think he was already there). With a sound somewhat reminiscent of A$AP Rocky, ZelooperZ’s songs had easily repeatable choruses which helped the audience. His beats were also ideal for the occasion, with heavy bass lines to help get the people already amassing in front of the stage jumping and moving.

Spanish-Harlem based rapper Bodega Bamz came out next, toting a handle of Henessy. Bodega, touring largely off the success of his mixtape Strictly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z. has a style that in the vein of the Mafioso rap of fellow New Yorkers such as Raekwon and Big L. While certainly a respectable artist, Bodega’s songs did not work quite as well for the scene. Most of the attendees were college students, who in general trended much closer to hipsters looking for a party than the classic hip-hop heads that Bodega likely appeals to. One particularly ironic segway involved Bodega yelling “fuck yeah” and the crowd responding with “still trapping.” Broadly generalizing, I would guess the closest thing to “trapping” most attendees had been involved with was sharing some Adderall with their friends. Ultimately though, Bodega was solid, with his A$AP Ferg featuring song “Amen” being the highlight of his set.

Finally, it was time for the main event, with Danny taking the stage along with his hype man and Skywlkr (ZelooperZ and the Bodega were also on stage, albeit mic-less). Danny was a spectacle unto himself — wearing tight black pants under a blue and yellow, Mickey-Mouse-themed Kimono. In addition, he had on what can only be described as grandma glasses and had his hair stuck up in some sort of perm, with the top portion dyed a fairly vivid green. After several songs, he took off the Kimono, revealing a Duck Dynasty tee shirt, complete with faces of the Robertson family. When it comes to strangest outfits in Hip Hop, Danny might have Kanye beaten.

Despite all of his well documented quirks and eccentricities, Danny put on a show like a professional. He effectively ran through the more party friendly songs of XXX and Old, keeping both serious fans and dilettantes into the performance. While rampant drug use and explicit sexual activity are certainly features of almost every Danny Brown song, many have a bleak quality which could potentially serve to undermine a crowd that came to dance and jam. So while many Danny Brown Stans would cite personal cuts like “Scrap or Die” and “Clean Up” as some of Danny’s strongest work, they are notably absent from his set list.

Instead, a steady diet of staples like “Break It (Go),” the appropriately timed “Lie4” (“I got that income tax swag” never fails to make me laugh) and the debaucherous “Blunts After Blunts” kept the crowd jumping, dancing and sweaty. Danny did not waste time, transitioning from song to song with rapidity, keeping his energy high even as the crowd sagged a bit towards the middle of the set. His unique voice actually sounded really good, something I was concerned about him replicating in a live setting, and several times he let out his goofy, trademark giggle. One brief pause before the final song did allow him to express his appreciation for “molly” (an acquaintance several audience members may have also made) before he surged into “Dip” to some of the loudest cheers of the night. Then, his set completed, Danny wished Ithaca a good night, stuck his reptilian tongue through his famous gap tooth smile one last time and exited, surely looking forward to some well deserved blunts and brews.