Black Milk & Danny Brown – Black & Brown EP
Fat Beats Records: 2011 Black Milk is the best producer in the game right now, and in the past few years Danny Brown has brought the most distinct style to hip-hop since those loose crack rocks chafed Lil Wayne’s oesophagus. Both have had a great year. Milk teamed up with two of rap’s most intimidating diplomats to release a critically acclaimed album in which his fresh, thudding beats outshone and outlasted the occasionally repetitive rhyming content of his peers. What Brown did to the track in his guest slot on Random Axe was cruel and merciless, and the same energy, originality and eccentricity applied to his own release XXX is what made it so great. Brown morphs effortlessly from proud tales of dipping his dick in a bag of skittles to the more emotive, tragic stories of wearing a scarf in his sleep in order to avoid hypothermia, whilst Milk seems to have a beat for every occasion, possibly even for entertaining elderly relatives. Therefore, an LP between the hottest pairing from a city named after a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water would seem too much to ask for. It would seem that way, and thus in the meantime there is the Black & Brown EP to contend with: a fair compromise.
Black Milk tailors the beats on this EP to suit the split personality of Danny Brown perfectly. Distant, filtered vocal samples in opening track “Wake Up” and “Zap” fit both the hungry growling and screeching stream-of-consciousness of Brown. The former song sees him at his more serious, second half of XXX side, “We thirsty and starving/ hungrier than a motherfucker, mouth dry as hell / trying to make it in a city where 90 percent fail” over an eerily floating Black Milk production. The leaked song, graced by a glorious drum drop, is more ‘classic’ Danny Brown. The Adderall Admiral touches on the finer points of class-b drugs and fellatio, yet still does not sound like Ol Dirty Bastard’s hormonal younger sister as he did during the drug-infused haze of the first half of XXX, staying true to his more traditional voice on debut release The Hybrid. Meanwhile, Black Milk’s looser, more electronic edge fits Danny Brown’s charming boasts – “been nice with the mic since spilling rice on my high chair” – essentially informing the listener he was doing this way before Nas dropped the ‘nasty’.
Danny Brown treats Black Milk’s input with the enthusiasm of an unreliable food critic pouring over the hottest restaurant in town: dicing the meat, swallowing each cube whole then chugging a bottle of wine in glad appreciation. Over an instrumental that feels suspiciously like it has been lifted straight from Tronic, Brown eventually raises both his pitch and the audacity of his claims, including a gratuitous remark relating the angle of his dentures to the art of cunnilingus. “Dada” marks the return of Black Milk’s tough drums, and although not addressing the neglected topic in hip-hop of present fathers, exemplifies both the grave and playful side to Danny Brown, both of which can spawn spontaneously from the other. “Used to be starving” followed by “got your bitch choking” could easily appear contrived, yet succeeds in its fervent summation of a sinister, disturbed, possibly brilliant mind. Helped along of course by a beautifully blended, touching vocal and string sample courtesy of Curtis Cross. Milk experiments in interludes that carry the EP along, “WTF”, a traditional drum break laced with a futuristic staccato soundscape is appropriately followed by “LOL”. Brown does actually grace this expression of laughter with his untamed presence and contributes to a concoction of which its title is indicative; that is to say enjoyable. Finally, tacked on at the end is a song from Black Milk’s most recent solo project, Album Of The Year, where the two rappers tear up a pounding beat, although it quite literally has been done before.
Black Milk’s impressive repertoire here expands, as he shapes beats comfortably for the indecisive Danny Brown, soulful but also disgusting. These two Detroit artists should be looked to with optimism for actually enjoyable hip-hop in whatever you call this decade, not the commercialised J. Coles, thin and insipid Tyler the Creators, or exhausted Nasir Jones’. The handful of tracks on this EP showcased a consistent, but relentlessly entertaining producer, and a relentlessly inconsistent, but entertainingly so rapper. This project was only an EP, but it left a greedy, unsatisfied taste in the reviewer’s seasoned mouth – presumably its intention.