A lot has changed in the past two years of Danny Brown’s life. After the release of his first studio album, XXX, in 2011, the 32-year-old Detroit native’s unique vernacular and quirky image have appealed to crowds across the country. He has moved on from drug deals and jail time to tour with rappers such as Schoolboy Q, A$AP Rocky and Childish Gambino, in addition to playing at festivals including Coachella and SXSW.
Tracks such as “Wonderbread” and “Clean Up” describe the violence he witnessed throughout his life and how, despite the past three years of international recognition, the torments of his past continue to haunt his sleep, keeping him up at night. Brown’s honest lyrics in Old reveal what troubles him and how he copes with life’s insecurities.
Similar to Brown’s changing identities, this album is two-sided. Side A brings some of his darkest moments alive in his solo tracks, whereas Side B reminds us this is still the flamboyant and eccentric Danny Brown who loves sex, Molly and smoking blunt after blunt. He even admits in the track “Lonely” that he is “a hipster by heart, but I can tell you how the streets feel.”
Brown recognizes the paradox of growing up. His youth has aged him. His drug-dealing past encourages further drug use, and now he is partying and acting young. In “Float On,” Brown slows down his verses and admits getting old for him doesn’t mean getting sober. He says, “And no matter how it gets I hold on / Rolling up this dope to cope I float on.”
Throughout the 19 tracks, we experience the old Danny sitting on his porch in Detroit selling dubs, the new Danny who enraptures festivals and the Danny who feels pressure to make honest and introspective music. Old relays an aura of complexity, not confusion. This album is dynamic because he is dynamic, and it encompasses who he is with full disclosure. Danny Brown may be old, but he still likes to party.