Few are having busier or better years than Danny Brown. Two impressive album releases in one year. He has done what few can do, though Graham Coxon is one of them. An exceptional collaboration with JPEGMafia is not forgotten about though pushed to the side for solo release Quaranta. Stumbling out of the cinema after a viewing of the dismal Five Night’s at Freddy’s, seeing Brown post himself lined up with the cast of ghostly animatronics as his mock-up album cover was too good to pass on. Quaranta, then. An album stuffed full of moments where you’ll purse your lips, let out an “oooh” and look to whoever else heard it. When living alone, that does ring a sign of insanity – but Quaranta is an album worth sharing. Level the experience with others, play it loud.
A title track of real variety pulls itself off and even then pales in comparison to the masterful, wired-in focus of Tantor. An exceptional half-hour follows. User disconnects and samples from the deep and daft world of Twitch are used with great strength and breaks from the percussion-heavy brilliance. Swift flow between Ain’t My Concern and Dark Sword Angel is as close as Quaranta comes to a cross-track narrative though the themes of isolation felt throughout – the middle finger to the label and the desire for creativity with or without a label – are a stunning and defiant moment for Brown. One in a series of many where Brown puts himself and his efforts first, rather than the desires of a suit in a boardroom. Refreshing it is to hear, it is worrying it impacts music at all.
What did danny brown mean by this pic.twitter.com/0gSKRuFPki
— chica from fnaf (@PhelleAlt) November 12, 2023
Quaranta is a rise above the rest then – a risible fire of spellbound music which brings about the fine line between creating for the experience and producing for the money. Few have the good life and enjoy their work enough to live as just the former, a topic Quaranta touches on but never truly explores. Brown says this is the album which says what he wants should he have died. An honest nerve is struck throughout and featured artists Kassa Overall, Bruiser Wolf and MIKE are in on it. Y.B.P. riffs in a similar list-off manner to Warren Beatty in Bulworth – a cavalcade of pop culture conflict which rages on in the public heart and the mind elsewhere. Easing off for the likes of Shakedown and Down Wit It, Brown picks up the pace once more after a brief break for the gut-punch double bill of Hanami and Bass Jam.
Tender moments on Bass Jam strike through as a fulfilling end to a truly personal album. Brown considers his time in rehab, his abilities as a performer and the flow of writing on Quaranta. Every artist should find the time to stare themselves in the soul – and with Brown doing so clearly and proactively here, an openness which listeners can thoroughly respect and tune into comes through. Growth is the clear aim for Brown here, and though it is staggered in the midsection a tad, the wholly honest experience which comes through Quaranta is unforgettable. An equally bold and brave step for Brown, whose exceptional displays throughout and collaborative efforts provide some of the best tracks of the year.