Danny Brown's debut studio album, Old, was one of last year's most innovative and experimental records. From the wildly diverse flows that Brown employs throughout, to its uncompromising look at poverty, crime, and drug addiction connected dynamics, everything that comprised the listening experience was a challenge; which, if given a chance, eventually revealed itself to be an enlightening expose on the current state of the emcee's psyche. There were moments where his vivid descriptions of his rough upbringing in Detroit that are cripplingly painful, while others where the amount of drugs being consumed is dizzying, near fatally euphoric. It was a roller coaster ride, unlike any previously available at hip hop's ever growing carnival.
"25 Bucks" followed the former pattern, unlike Brown's previous two party crazed singles. Using his mother's makeshift hair braiding business as an extended metaphor for his illicit narcotics dealing, he paints a bleak picture of what life in his household was like and why he was in dire need of cash. His motivation for a better life led to his street affiliations in the same way it made his mother begin hairdressing. Purity Ring vocalist Megan James contributes a haunting chorus that accurately captures the miserableness of the situation, which Brown's high pitched energetic flow may mask.
In the "25 Bucks" video, viewers follow an animated Danny Brown through his home, where the other occupants have all been frozen in time. Cigarette smoke fills the air, unless hair spray is being thoroughly applied to a customers head. Each room we enter uncovers more layers in the miserable tale, with mothers desperately praying over their sons or young men reveling in their illegal earnings. Remarkably unfazed, Danny travels smoothly navigates through the house, partaking in mundane tasks; emphasizing the normalcy that this dysfunction had wrought on his life. James, on the other hand, appears from out of the thin air, and looks stoic the entire time. Her presence is closer to creepy than comforting, even though she looks practically angelic.
If you haven't heard Old yet, you are missing out on a great rap album. Danny Brown isn't for those who are looking for strictly orthodox style rhymes, over boom-bap production, nor is he going to rap over purely cloud rap, synthesizer heavy sounds. Instead, he does what he wants and continues to push the boundaries on what can be considered hip hop. So go into it with an open mind and you won't be disappointed.