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Danny Brown: “I want my shit to sound like BDSM!”

Schoolyard rapping? Prison boners? Trent Reznor? Watch the Detroit rapper let rip in a new Red Bull Music Academy lecture exclusively on Dazed

As a kid, Danny Brown spoke in rhymes before he could hold a conversation, but today he’s pretty hot on both fronts. Glasgow saw both sides of Detroit’s eminent rap craftsman last weekend, when warehouse venue SWG3 hosted an RBMA lecture (watch below). The talk’s a peach, casting a wide net over the digressions and obsessions that helped kid Danny - a spelling bee champ and GI Joe nerd - grow into the Wu Tang-devoted, web-native teen who still lurks close to the surface within the 34-year-old. Keep an eye out for news on his new record - “I’m on some Trent Reznor shit,” he says, “I want my shit to sound like BDSM” - and scroll through for more on the same subject, along with candid reflections on his in-progress children’s book, and his creative responsibility as hip-hop’s “oldest cool guy around”.

How was the lecture? You seem quite comfortable talking about yourself.

Danny Brown: I love myself! So shit, it's easy to talk about him. When you ask me about other people, that's when I'll get uncomfortable! (laughs) 

You mentioned that reading Dr Seuss taught you to rhyme before you could speak. Is your own children's book still on the cards?

Danny Brown: Yeah. At this point I'm working on my album so that's on the backburner. But it's definitely gonna happen. It's something I always wanna do. I would love to have my own series, like a collection of Dr. Seuss books, where you look at my career like, 'Danny Brown made albums, he wrote children's books, he did cartoons, sketch comedy, he can fuck around do standup'. It'll get to the point where you can expect that I'll drop a children's book, then I'll drop an album - it's something that'll come every year eventually. 

“I love myself! So shit, it's easy to talk about him. When you ask me about other people, that's when I'll get uncomfortable!” – Danny Brown

Why children's books?

Danny Brown: That's the only thing I think I could help. Me writing a biography about my life, or telling a story - I'm not a person that's into writing novels or fiction stories. So at the end of the day, Dr. Seuss played a big part in my life as a kid, and I don't know nobody else that he's passed that baton to. And with me being a rapper, and all the props I get from that, the spotlight from that, I think it'd be easy to transition into the books and for people to get into it. We had Dr. Seuss, but right now, do people even buy books for their kids? I got one every time in my Christmas stocking, but they're getting video games now. I have good intentions of helping the kids with it. 

In what way?

Danny Brown: The first one I want to write is about self-esteem, in terms of women. Because I talk so much about getting my dick sucked, and so much misogyny, I gotta right all my wrongs! I have a daughter. You can't have all negative, you gotta have some positive to it. So if I make these rap songs about all this misogyny, I need to write books. At the end of the day, whatever you do with music, you get it back. And as long as I've been making the type of music that I've been making, I've seen what I've gotten back from it. So now it's time for me to right that wrong. I don't want my daughter to be one of those girls that been in my hotel room. 

You talked about making your next record without giving a fuck what people think.

Danny Brown: I never did! But I always wanted to make it enjoyable listening for the average person, even though the average person probably won't get into that. But now it's to the point where I don't even have that mentality. There's no reason for me to even try to play that game anymore.

You also talked up progressing rap with your new record - is that what you've always done?

Danny Brown: Yeah, but I was censoring myself a little bit. I always compare it to when you're feeding a sick dog. You have to put his medicine inside his food. So all this time I've been trying to do it, but I always would sugar coat it with other things to make people get into it. So now, there's no sugar coating, it's just blatantly in your face, in an experimental and progressive way. 

What kind of experimentation are we talking?

Danny Brown: I always looked at, like, when the Beatles made Sgt. Pepper's, or when Beach Boys made Pet Sounds. And I always feel like, besides maybe a De La Soul album or Madvillain, it hasn't ventured too far into that world. And I've always been chasing that world in that sense. But now is my first time where I'm gonna just dive fully headfirst into it. I'm not chasing anything you'd hear on the radio or see on TV or the internet. With Old, I made songs for me to perform at festivals. With this album, instead of me making songs that would fit at a festival, I'm trying to create my own songs to perform at a festival. 

Are other rappers not progressing rap in that way?

Danny Brown: I just think it comes with musical knowledge and my age. A lot of people that's popular in rap are young. It's a young game. it doesn't really pertain to older people that could study music that long. I'm probably the oldest cool guy around right now.

Were you joking about aspiring to work with Serj Tankian?

Danny Brown: Nah, dead serious. Toxicity is the number one album right now that's influencing my new album. The way that the concept and the attitude, the way it was sequenced is one of the biggest things for me. You knew there was a social awareness to it. When you listen to the album Toxicity, it's actually talking about drugs. The fucking drug situation in America. And if you look at Danny Brown, my music, the sidekick to all this shit's been drugs. So in a sense, I look at Toxicity as the COINTELPRO, as far as music. There hasn't been a COINTELPRO rap album, so I'm trying to make the COINTELPRO rap album. You see all the goodness of doing drugs - we're always giving you the fun-ness of doing drugs but no one's giving you the side B to it. But now it's bigger than just me in the hood. It's a bigger situation.

The Red Bull Music Academy UK Tour comes to London 8-12 April, and finishes up in Manchester April 16-19