Ever since his debut album, The Hybrid, hit record shelves in 2010, Danny Brown has cultivated one of the most unique voices in contemporary hip-hop. March 16 marked the 37th birthday for the Detroit MC and we’re (belatedly) commemorating the occasion by making his 2012 single, “Grown Up,” the SOTD available on Apple Music and Spotify or check out the music video below.
Between “Juicy” by Biggie, “Back Then” by Mike Jones, and “Started from the Bottom,” by Drake, the look how far we’ve come track has become a common theme in this era of hip-hop. “Grown Up” stays true to the rags to riches archetype, but feels more endearing. It’s still a song meant to flex, but it’s more about how he’s grown as a person as opposed to just talking about how much money he has now.
He echoes Biggie’s line “Born sinner, the opposite of a winner, remember when we used to eat sardines for dinner” with his line “Remember all for dinner all we ate was Captain Crunch, now we blow big blunts on the way to brunch.” The best part about this is he doesn’t even mention “Juicy” or Biggie, by name. His derivation of “remember” and “dinner” automatically make you think of one of the most iconic lines in one of the most iconic songs of all time. Furthermore, putting his own spin by name-dropping Captain Crunch and then the imagery of him smoking a fat blunt in some gentrified neighborhood on his way to eat some eggs benedict and drink mimosas are the embodiment of Danny Brown’s entire persona. He is a Jackson Pollack of musical influence, inspired by Joy Division as much as he’s inspired by Nas.
“Grown Up” sets the mood from the get-go with a backbeat layered behind a sample that is reminiscent of “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed, a bass line that has become synonymous with hip-hop since A Tribe Called Quest sampled it on “Can I Kick It.” It creates a nostalgic sound that really lays the canvas for Danny Brown to talk about growing up. Danny Brown’s articulation is like a barrage of Bushido Blade combo moves, slicing and dicing at will. His trademark nasal voice flirts with the lines of being cartoony, but is so integral to his music that adds a dimension as an additional instrument.
His voice combined with his enunciation works so well against the calming instrumentation that it only strengthens the sincerity of the lyrics. By the time you reach the chorus “Rushing as a kid just to be grown up/Whoever thought I’d be the greatest growing up,” you really are in the moment with him as a person looking back at how far he’s come. It’s the type of emotional sincerity that has always been a staple of Brown’s music no matter his age.
Check us out on Spotify and SoundCloud @geeksofcolor!