Danny Brown Showcases His Personal Side in ‘Live at the Majestic’ Documentary
Danny Brown is hitting the big screen. The Detroit rapper celebrated the premiere of his documentary, Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic at the House of Vans in Brooklyn, N.Y. last week. Directed by Andrew Cohn, the documentary follows the XXX creator throughout an entire day in the Motor City as he preps to hit the stage at renowned venue The Majestic Theater.
Not only does the documentary highlight Brown's incredibly electrifying stage performance, but it also gives fans a more in-depth look at his lifestyle in his native Detroit. Plus some of his fondest memories growing up in the place where Motown was created are included. Throughout the film, Cohn gets Brown to open up even more about his trails and tribulations and gives viewers an introspective look at one of rap's most beloved characters.
During the eventful night at the House of Vans, not only did fans get to watch the documentary in advance, but the Old rhymer gave attendees a chance to ask questions about the documentary. To top off the night, Danny Brown gave the Brooklyn crowd an exclusive and energetic performance like no other. XXL got a chance to chop it up with Brown and filmmaker Cohn before the premiere of the documentary to get the details behind the making of this film.
XXL: What inspired this documentary and how long was it in the works for?
Danny Brown: I think it’s been almost two years with it. The homies from Michigan is making moves just like I’m making moves and he reached out and wanted to make it happen so I can’t really take no credit for it to be honest. I’m just an actor in this movie, you know what I’m saying?
Compared to other musical documentaries, what makes Danny Brown: Live At The Majestic different than the rest of the documentaries?
It’s funny [laughs]! I’m like a real joyful, carefree person so I think people will get to see me in my hometown and around my friends which will be something different for a lot of my fans. I always like to see a more personal side of my rappers and shit like that.
What does Majestic Theater mean to you and to your hometown of Detroit?
Oh, Majestic Theater is one of the most famous venues. A while ago and I still think they do, they used to throw these events called Funk Night and they would have these Funk bands come through but it was almost like a rave atmosphere, you know what I’m saying? Like the same thing you used to get like at a techno rave, you know? Just like a rave atmosphere but it’s playing like straight-up, old school funk music. They spinning vinyl records and this was probably around 2008 and 2009 so it was tight. Very lit and we used to party there a lot, so love that venue.
Do you recall the first time you performed there?
The first time I performed there was for this show. Like I played the Magic Stick, which is next door and a fairly smaller venue, but it still holds its weight as far as legendary status in Detroit. The Majestic holds way more people so it cool performing at that historic venue.
What was the most challenging and interesting part of doing this documentary?
Nothing was really challenging for me about this documentary 'cause like I said I’m just an actor in this movie, so I really didn’t do anything except for be myself and every time they said the cameras popped up I just let them pop up and I’d get mic’d up. The most interesting part for me was watching the documentary back and getting to see how it came about. Another interesting part was seeing the fan aspect of the movie because it follows three fans in the movie and just seeing how people gravitate to my music and how much they love it. I put so much into it and I take it as serious and it’s cool to see people take it serious as much as I do, it made it worthwhile to shoot this.
How close did you work with Andrew Cohn on this film?
Oh man, that’s the homie! He from where I’m from. We clicked off rip and whatever he needed me to do I was there to do it. This is his vision and I was just acting as myself.
Personality-wise, do you think there’s something that fans will get to know about you that they didn’t know in the past?
I don’t know. I put so much of myself out in the open. I think people have already seen my personality, but I guess the point of me being home. People get this impression that I be wildin’ out and just being crazy, but I really be in the city with my homies chillin', so they get to see my day to day because that’s pretty much how my days are like in this documentary.
How long has the film been in the works for and what sparked the idea about this documentary?
Andrew Cohn: We've been working on this documentary for about 16 months already. Danny is like one of my favorite rappers ever. I approached his manager a long time ago about doing a film, but it didn't really work out at the time and I was working on another film in the Midwest and Danny's camp told me they wanted to do a live concert-doc and I was like, "Let's do it." I'm happy about the final result of the film. I think people are really going to enjoy it.
Is it the first time you ever worked on a concert documentary?
Andrew: Yeah, it's the first time I actually work on something like this. Most of the films I do are way different. I had few challenges, especially it being a concert doc. That's why there's not a lot of great concert docs in my opinion, but when you have someone as likable as Danny it makes it really easy. You turn the camera on and he's vulnerable, honest and real and I think that's why people connect so much with his music.
What stood out most about his performance while you were shooting the documentary?
Andrew: It was crazy to see him perform at the Majestic. I've seen him live a couple of times, but you know we had a lot of issues making the film because it was so crazy. The crowd broke down the barriers and we had like a pit set where the camera guys were that got smashed in and I think at the end of the day we wanted to capture the excitement and the energy of the show and I feel like we did a good job, you know? I'm from Michigan and I had a lot of friends help out who are really invested and love Danny so everyone was really on the same page and really excited. The live concert stuff is probably some of my favorite parts from the film. It turned out well and I'm super happy.
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