Fresh off of the drug lust that was Atrocity Exhibition which was as fun and entertaining as it was frightening. That record dove straight into the deep end of drug addiction, relapse, withdrawal, but revival. uknowhatimsayin¿ is linked with producer Q-Tip best known for his work in A Tribe Called Quest where this style of sound adds to the maturity and approachability of Brown. Even if his audience does not realize it, Brown takes steps into the waters of widening his scope of development towards a more fit soundscape. He is more reliable and trustworthy as a narrator that still has an edge even if his wild hair and chipped tooth has disappeared.
As fame continues to approach Brown and he grows in stature, he still claims to be level-headed with an ear to the ground. “Every other day, always some shit, I’m the underdog but I’m never over it. Gotta keep a grip when the rent due, niggas tryna get you for every last cent,” describes Brown on the opening handshake disguised as “Change Up.” The track is subtle, compared to how Brown has opened records previously, but the change is a better segue into uknowhatimsayin¿. Almost every single building block of Brown’s career has lead him into this bottleneck of obscure, but intricate raps that are catchy over abstract production.
Especially shown well on the track “Savage Nomad,” where the golden rims of a shiny chrome ride rolls out to broadcast Brown’s arrival. He describes, “No ice on my neck but she love me for my charm, might sniff on the weekend and sip on some XO. I’m back up in this bitch like I just fucked my ex-ho,” illustrating a still dirty-mouthed, but precise comedic backbone to his rhymes. The instrumental is somewhere between complex strings that combine with a foundational 808 to underlay the entire mix. The final moments are this blitzing percussion solo with a drum-set being destroyed with flashing rolls and snare cracks before the track transitions into “Best Life” where Brown rhymes over a cheerful, incredibly uplifting tune.
uknowhatimsayin¿ is definitely a strange record that stands out for its concrete rhymes and footing that becomes planted in the scheme of experimentation. This is a step back into the reflective but aged Danny Brown. A time where he is no longer a savage drug head, and instead just wears the savage artist title that can make longtime fans and new ones approach with less caution than before.
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