Danny Brown @ Corona Theatre – 19 November 2019

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Danny Brown in Montreal

Danny Brown is one of the most magnetic performers in all of hip-hop. His undeniable charm, natural sense of humour and maniacal laugh coalesce with his serious chops as an MC and vocalist to make him an all-time great.

The Detroit-native performed a career-spanning set at Montreal’s Corona Theatre last Wednesday. The MC opened with “Dirty Laundry,” the first single from his recently released album ​uknowhatimsayin¿, its bleepy alarm clock-aping synth line fused to a squelching synth line percolating as Brown worked through the song’s first few bars and built-up tension. As the beat dropped, the crowd erupted into a pogo frenzy, yelling every word right back.

The intensity was maintained throughout Danny’s set, a roiling boil from the opener on, never a simmer. Party rap songs like “Side B (Dope Song)” and the boisterous Evil Nine collaboration “Black Brad Pitt” were sequenced next to demented carnival fun-house cyclones like “Ain’t It Funny,” and “When It Rain” from 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition. Brown’s voice is beautifully elastic, a swiss-army knife of an instrument where gruff barks share space with helium-balloon yelps. His mastery as an MC was on stunning display, never missing a bar, enunciating clearly through the loud, bass-heavy mix, and ably navigating every modulation required of his voice.

Towards the end of the set, Brown took a small break to address someone in the crowd who’d been waving a copy of Weekend at Bernie’s on DVD, a 90s cult-classic film where two idiots go on various adventures with the body of their deceased boss, for him to sign. Brown gently ribbed the fan, explaining that the middle of the set was an inopportune time for him to be signing autographs, yet he ultimately did so anyway. This seemed like an odd bit of randomness until I realized that the set’s closing song “Best Life,” features the line “Not supposed to be here, dead, like Weekend at Bernie’s.” Thankfully Danny Brown is alive and well, a one of a kind artist making and performing some of the most vital music around.

DJ Krystal Lake

Review & photos – Jean-Michel Lacombe

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