Search The Line of Best Fit
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Danny Brown – Koko, London 21/02/14

24 February 2014, 17:30 | Written by Thomas Hannan

Before he ambled on to Koko’s stage and put down his backpack, you’d have been forgiven for thinking Danny Brown didn’t really want to be in town tonight. All week prior we’d been hearing tales of him reducing journalists to tears, then publicly apologising for doing so, then getting in to a bizarre argument with The Guardian over a scotch egg, all before posting tweets suggesting he was pretty much exhausted.

Though the thought created by such behaviour that this could all be a total shambles does lend the evening a certain air of danger, we are not watching a car crash but instead a man on top of his game; smiling, jumping, licking the air like he’s a dog lapping up water. It seems the hectic life of an internationally touring rapper might be taking its toll on Brown, but here’s the thing – the rapping bit really, really suits him. He’s exceptional tonight.

For just over an hour, Brown bounds around the stage of a sold out Koko seemingly without a care in the world. In a set split roughly two thirds in favour of last year’s landmark Old as opposed to prior mixtape XXX, it sounds like he’s trying to demolish the venue rather than merely inviting it to dance, with a bass sound so prominent it’s difficult to focus on anything, such is the ferocity with which one’s eyeballs are being made to shake. Come the end of it, as a result, quite a fair proportion of the attendees facially resemble the wig-wearing skull displayed projected behind Brown for much of his set.

Bar an appearance from MC Scruffizer for “Dubstep”, it’s just Brown and his DJ on stage tonight; no hype man, no guest singers, nobody else for the hour. It might be a problem if he were a less engaging or versatile performer, but he’s got both covered, flitting from songs that graphically dicsuss his oral sex skills (“I Will”, he informs us) and fondness for MDMA (“Dip”, he advises us) to tunes that deal with his fear of the ageing process (“25 Bucks”) without even a hint of inconsistency. Such is the strength of his personality, a thread between it all is not hard to trace, even when you’re dancing at the same time.

It might sound scatterbrained, and the reports dealing with everything about Brown’s life outside of his records or shows might back up that diagnosis, but it comes together with a strange mixture of force and fragility that has you really rooting for the guy, even if he will not shut up about oral sex or how fucked up he likes to get. To be fair, he does make “Smokin’ and Drinkin’” sound like a very amusing way to spend an evening, and “Kush Koma” far less so, despite it being the song that gets the biggest reaction. He’s as nimble with his topics as his is with words – a total contradiction, wrapped up in an enigma, and probably subsequently smoked.

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