"I smoked so much weed I don't remember what I did last night. I don't know what the fuck is going on with this interview." That's Danny Brown, on a tour bus going somewhere to some place in Texas, giving up on raiding his memory banks for an answer to a follow-up question about a talent show in Detroit he's just said he entered at the age of seven.
Brown is a rapper from Detroit who has created a reputation forged by addictive, off-kilter lyrics and a highly-strung yapping voice. (He performs with Das Racist Friday at Ruby Skye.) On the song "Adderall Admiral," an ode to the ADHD drug, he raps, "Eating on an Adderall/ Wash it down with alcohol/ Writing holy mackerel actual or factual." Listening to Brown's music, you wouldn't be surprised if it transpired that he was one of the late great rap lunatic Ol' Dirty Bastard's illegitimate children -- and that's a high compliment.
Brown straddles scenes, too: He's recorded on A-Trak's Fool's Gold label, and recently released Black and Brown, a project with Black Milk; these associations give Brown both hipster cachet and underground credentials. But as animated as his rapped escapades are, for today's interview, ostensibly to promote his Bay Area show on Friday, Brown plays only the classic rap stoner -- languid and disinterested and content to give up little more than curt comments.
The closest Brown flirts with enthusiasm is a brief appreciation of E-40, the Bay Area's rap ambassador. 40, he says, has always been "one of my top rappers." He started listening to him while in sixth grade, attracted to the way he could "relate to what he was going through even though he was out in California and I was here in Detroit." Then he adds, "I mean, he was giving out game, that's what he did." A pause, then Brown stresses, "I was learning from him."
He's similarly short about his touring mates, Das Racist, who have accompanied him on the entire circuit. Pressed for an opinion on the group, he reveals only that he's been listening to them since "the first one, Shut Up, Dude," and that "them's my dudes." He is not forthcoming with raucous anecdotes about life on the road with the newly-crowned alternative rap princes.
As the interview winds up, Brown is asked what new music he's recording. It's a cursory but polite question; rappers, after all, usually love to promote an often bafflingly lengthy list of upcoming projects. "No idea," he says swiftly. "I ain't recording nothing." Instead, as soon as Brown finishes up his touring duties, he says that he has ambitions only to slouch down on his couch and play video games. The latest in the FIFA franchise is the title he's keen to get up to speed on. Brown's live shows, however, he promises are a far more active and engaged experience -- although perhaps you might want to hope he pops an Adderall or two before hitting the stage on Friday.