Danny Brown created his own lane with the impressive XXX mixtape. Now, the 32-year-old rapper is looking ahead at his debut album, Old.
During an interview with Pitchfork, Brown spoke on his approach to the making of Old. He also spoke about the abum’s guest features, which includes A$AP Rocky, Rustie, Schoolboy Q, Kitty, Ab-Soul, Purity Ring and more.
Read a few excerpts from the interview that reveals the specific artists he was looking at for inspiration, if he considers himself a perfectionist, and his favorite rappers.
Pitchfork: You’ve said that while you were making XXX you were listening to a lot of Joy Division. Were there any specific artists you looked to for this album?
DB: I made XXX with the aim of getting great reviews. And when I started making Old, I was trying to think of artists that came back from getting great reviews and made an album that was just as good– or better! The only group I could really come up with was Radiohead. So if XXX was my OK Computer, then I’d have to make my Kid A next. So I studied Kid A, and I took away that it’s not so much about the lyrics as it is about the way the beats feel, so what drives this album is the production. I wanted to have the most amazing beats, but I still want them to sound minimal– it’s still gotta sound like a Danny Brown beat. It can’t sound like no fucking Kanye orchestra shit. That ain’t me. That’s why I took so long with making this album. I was waiting for the perfect beats. And I got ‘em.
Pitchfork: Would you consider yourself a perfectionist?
DB: A perfectionist is someone like Dr. Dre or Kanye– they’ll take one song and do 50 takes. I go with my first take for every song. I want to capture a feeling. If I say a word wrong, fuck it. I am a perfectionist as far as listening to it, though. If I’m over a song two weeks after I made it, I’m not going to put it out. It has to last months.
Pitchfork: Who are some of your favorite rappers out right now?
DB: Kendrick Lamar and everyone from TDE. I love what A$AP Rocky’s doing. And, of course, Chief Keef. I listen to him the most. [laughs] I like his older mixtapes a little better though, because old Chief Keef scared me– I thought he was about to pop up out of nowhere with a hoodie on and shoot me. But I’m not really scared of Finally Rich.
My favorite song of his is “Laughing to the Bank” [laughs]. That’s some Sex Pistols-type shit. Remember when everybody said that Odd Future was punk rock? To me, Chief Keef is totally punk rock. Like, the melodies he uses on his album– it’s like he’s not even rapping no more, he’s just singing. You could swap those synths and keyboards with guitars and fucking crazy drums and he’ll be a rock star.
Read the full interview here.