On Wednesday, September 28th, a couple of our executive staff members decided to make the 2.5 hour trek to Lincoln, Nebraska, to see Detroit hip hop artist, Danny Brown. Dylan Swoyer, our Music Director, decided to review the experience, which you can read below:
Brown never seems to come anywhere near Kansas City or Lawrence, so this seemed as good of opportunity as any to catch the rapper in person. I hadn’t been to more than a couple hip hop shows before a couple years ago, but I’m steadily raising the number having seen Run The Jewels, Tyler The Creator, Vince Staples, Talib Kweli, Public Enemy, A$AP Ferg/Tory Lanez, Freddie Gibbs, Death Grips, Blackalicious, and Pouya. Outside of Death Grips, Danny Brown is fighting for that top spot. YG or ScHoolboy Q/Joey Bada$$ may soon take that spot as they are coming to Lawrence and KC respectively, but I don’t anticipate it honestly. Danny is that good. His on-stage presence is truly breath-taking.
After giving ourselves a short tour of UNL’s campus, we walked a few blocks south to O Street, where the venue, Bourbon Theatre, is located. Being planners, we got there a bit too early. Show “started” at 8pm, and we got there just after then. The first opener didn’t come out for a good 45 minutes. His name was ZelooperZ, a member of Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade. Both rappers are from Detroit, similar in stature, and pretty similar in rapping style as well. Anyone who has heard Danny’s music knows, his voice is… different. Z did a great job going out of his way to get crowd involvement, encouraging moshing (while still discouraging fighting). He also threw out some insults at people who weren’t willing to get tossed around in a large group of people. Following ZelooperZ was an artist out of Houston named Maxo Kream. I didn’t enjoy him quite as much, but he really seemed to have a decent number of fans in attendance, and he also did a nice job with crowd involvement.
Enough about the openers. I was there to see Danny Brown, and I think that’s why you’re here too. He finally came out around 10:15pm. After a custom opener for the tour, he transitioned into eight tracks from his 2011 record, XXX (still many fans’ favorite Danny Brown record). The first of many smiles for me came from when he stopped between a couple tracks towards the beginning and exclaimed, “Hi, my name is Daniel!” The crowd started out slow and gradually picked up speed (likely by design). “Blunt After Blunt,” the XXX finale, led to the transition into his Old section. The crowd, as expected, LOVED rapping “BLUNT AFTER BLUNT AFTER BLUNT AFTER BLUNT…” as the music was muted each time that came up in the song so the audience could belt it out each time at the top of their lungs. It subsided a bit after XXX, but Danny certainly loved stepping up with one leg forward at the center of the stage, holding up a “rock on” sign, smiling, and sticking his tongue out as far as possible. I couldn’t help but smile each time.
His Old portion started off hard and fast with “Dope Song (Side B)” and “Smokin & Drinkin.” This was easily my favorite part of the show. I think during the six Old tracks you could find the natural climax to the show. After performing his hit single, “Grown Up,” he then gave the audience a taste of his brand new record, Atrocity Exhibition, which surprisingly dropped a few days early on Tuesday, September 27th. All three singles, including “Really Doe (featuring Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt), were performed as well as another track from the record, “Dance in the Water.” “Pneumonia,” my favorite single, topped off the night and was his finale. The set lasted about 75 minutes – pretty solid for a hip hop set.
All in all, it was certainly worth the five hours round-trip driving to Nebraska, visiting Lincoln for the first time, and seeing one of my favorite rappers in person. I was praying he would perform “Ain’t It Funny,” my favorite track from the new record, but I can’t act like I was disappointed in any part of the show. It was a blast. Hopefully next time, he comes to Lawrence though, so it isn’t quite as long of a drive.
By: Dylan Swoyer