Danny Brown, known for pushing the boundaries of experimental Hip Hop, has garnered a diverse fanbase with his unfiltered and unorthodox expression of emotions. With each new album release, anticipation runs high among fans eager to hear his unique style. Quaranta was particularly anticipated, especially with Danny proclaiming it as a sequel to his breakthrough album X X X (2011). However, listeners will quickly realize that Quaranta is different from what they expected. Contrary to the anticipation of a high-energy and unhinged album, Quaranta showcases Danny’s most lowkey endeavor yet, demonstrating his maturity, introspection, and wisdom as he fearlessly confronts his demons and navigates the conflict between his two personas.
The album’s production, while toning down the lyrical and thematic intensity, maintains Danny’s mind-bending style. Although the beats may not reach the off-the-wall nature of his previous works like X X X, Old (2013), and Atrocity Exhibition (2016), they remain diverse, unhinged, lush, and, most importantly, unpredictable. The tracklist offers a broad spectrum of instrumentals and moods, ranging from the raw guitar solo on “Quaranta,” to the overwhelming sinister synths on “Dark Sword Angel,” and the soothing keys of “Celibate.” This versatility keeps listeners on their toes throughout the album.
Quaranta caters to every fan of Danny’s music, striking a balance between tracks like “Dark Sword Angel,” “Jenn’s Terrific Vacation,” and “Tantor” for those who loved his more chaotic days, and introspective tracks like “Down Wit It,” “Hanami,” and “Quaranta” for those who appreciate his lowkey conscious side. The album feels like a culmination of Danny’s past, a reflection that stays true to himself.
Danny’s performances on Quaranta are impeccable, showcasing a battle between his druggy ego and his more grounded self. While he maintains his iconic yelp on some songs, his normal voice dominates, possibly symbolizing a new era for him. The passion and dynamism in his performances, from the insane rapping on “Dark Sword Angel” to the vulnerability on “Down Wit It,” highlight his artistic range.
Thematically, Quaranta is Danny’s most introspective album, delving into past addictions, mental health struggles, challenging adolescence and adulthood, traumas, and even love. Approaching 40, he reflects on his journey, facing his fears head-on while maintaining an optimistic outlook, making it his healthiest-sounding album yet.
While the second half of the album may not match the intensity of the first, with some forgettable moments, the overall experience remains strong. Danny’s maturity shines through as he enters middle age, offering engaging lyrics and head-nodding beats, further solidifying his position as one of modern rap’s finest.
Those expecting a return to the intensity of his Atrocity Exhibition magnum opus may be disappointed. However, they should be able to appreciate the transparent chill, and emotional nature of the album, acknowledging Danny’s ability to adapt and rap over diverse beats. In essence, Quaranta is a great project from one of the most uncompromising, creatively brilliant, and unique rappers of our generation. It represents Danny’s humanity at its core, marking a significant point in his discography. 8/10