Danny Brown plans to drop OLD, one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums of 2013, later this year. But a recent incident at a show in Minneapolis - when a female fan reportedly grabbed Brown, pulled down his pants and proceeded to perform oral sex on him - has eclipsed news of the upcoming release for now and has spawned a series of confusing and highly charged pieces.
There's a lot of conflicting information swirling around the incident, but the definitive piece thus far has been by tourmate Kitty Pryde, who published a long blog on Noisey two days ago. Kitty proclaims the incident was sexual assault.
"I'm mad as hell, to be honest.
"I'm mad that a person thought it was okay to pull another person's pants down during their performance in front of about 700 other people. I'm mad that a person thought it was a good idea to perform a sex act on another person without their consent. I'm mad that nobody made her leave. I'm mad that Danny had to actually wonder what he was supposed to do at that point. I'm mad that when I went home and said I had no respect for that girl, I was attacked for being a "slut-shamer" (after literally leading a girl to his hotel room at 3AM at her request) and, even more outrageously, for being jealous of the girl who sucked his dick. I'm mad that when two dudes pulled my pants down onstage, other people got mad too, but when it happened to Danny the initial reaction was like one big high-five."
Up to this point, Brown has not commented publicly on the incident, save for a since-deleted tweet response to Kendrick Lamar. He has, however, retweeted many expressions of support from his fans - and retweeted the link to Kitty's piece multiple times. That is, he hasn't spoken publicly until now.
@xdannyxbrownx I love you babe- Erika (@whootybish) May 2, 2013
I wanted to talk Brown about the incident. Scratch that. I wanted to talk to Brown about the response to the incident, which, to me, has seemed unfair and sexist. Perhaps I didn't present the conversation in the right way; looking back, I certainly didn't mean to say "bullshit" four separate times.Brown seemed extremely reserved throughout our interview; I'd be tempted to attribute that to the recent media storm, but I've never talked to the man before. He'll perform at Deluxe at Old National Centre on Tuesday, May 14.
NUVO: I don't want to make you talk about anything you don't want to talk about.
Brown: It's cool. I won't! [laughs] I won't talk about something I don't want to talk about.
NUVO: I know you've been retweeting a lot of messages of fan support in the last couple of days, and there's been a lot of things being said. I guess I wanted to know how much [of what's being written about the Minneapolis incident] is bullshit.
Brown: What do you mean bullshit? Like what?
NUVO: I've been reading all kinds of [pieces] about whatever happened in Minneapolis. ... I wondered if you had read anything [being written] and how much you think is right, if any.
Brown: I just don't like when people - with the whole thing, I don't like the way people are, like, taking the tabloid-y approach to it. ... I mean, it's what happened. The biggest thing with me is that I don't like when people try and throw the age thing. You know what I'm saying? It was a fuckin' - I don't do all-ages shows for one thing. The girl was fuckin' 24 years old. I talked to her after the show was over with. You know what I'm saying? I don't like that they keep trying to throw in there that he maybe "did" an underage girl. That's not true, at all. And that's the only thing that really upset me about it.
NUVO: (I hem and haw while thinking about my next question.)
Brown: Don't get me wrong, I'm just keepin' it [honest] with you. I'm not like, proud of that shit that happened. I'm not running around, feeling like the man or some shit. I'm not happy. You know what I'm saying? I'm not happy that that shit happened. It happened - it was cool. Don't get me wrong. It was cool that that type of shit happened. I don't, like - if this was the '80s or something and we could just hear word of mouth, than that would be cool. But we live in a world where videos and pictures and everybody wants to do a fuckin' article trying to track down the girl, talking to the wrong girl, you know what I'm saying? That shit is not cool.
NUVO: I agree with you a lot. Nobody should be persecuted for something that just happens.
Brown: It was a moment. It just - at the end of the day, I don't care about it. It might happen again, who knows? You know? There's nothing I can really - it's just - fuckin' - that's the way my shows are. It's a party. We're havin' fun.
NUVO: How is Kitty doing?
Brown: [laughs] Kitty's all right. She's all right. She's been knocking these shows out, crying every night.
NUVO: I really did love that piece that she wrote. I thought it was badass.
Brown: It was. It's one of those things that I have a love and hate relationship with it. It's like - I'm happy that she did it and stuck up for me, but she did open up a can of worms too, and bring a light to a situation that probably we wouldn't even be talking about no more, you know? But now it's not going away.
NUVO: The same world that lets you drop a massive album on the everyone for free and hit all over the world in ten seconds also makes shit follow you. Good and bad.
Brown: It's cool. I've been through way worse situations, you know?
But let's not forget the reason I wanted to talk to Brown in the first place: his music kills. So before chatting a bit about the unsavory cloud that's hovered over the last week of his tour, we talked about the music he listened to when he was young, what he writes (or doesn't write) on tour and what he thinks is real hip-hop.
NUVO: You'll be in Indy in about a week and a half here. You're wrapping up your North American tour and ending up somewhere in Europe. ... I wanted to know if touring allows you time to be creative and write, or if it's more of just a time to refine material that you're touring.
Danny Brown: I don't work on music when I'm touring.
NUVO: Too busy?
Brown: I don't know. I just don't do that. I might write. I'm not the ... I don't know. I'm more concerned with doing the show. I look at it like, if you practice too much you might hurt yourself.
NUVO: That makes a lot of sense.
Brown: You don't want to get hurt in practice. Most of the time, I'm spending all day trying to get my voice right to perform. I wouldn't want to be sitting around trying to rap all day and then go and play a show at night.
NUVO: Do you have daily vocal practices?
NUVO: [laughs] I just wondered.
NUVO: I forget who I was talking about the other day who does every single day and they run through them for an hour. (Writer's note: I later remembered I was talking about Stevie Nicks, who spoke at length during her SXSW official interview about her vocal warm-ups. It was on my mind.)
Danny Brown - "Express Yourself"
NUVO: For the future of powerful, influential hip-hop releases [like XXX], do you see them [being released] in the free online download mode or more of the major/minor label release mode?
Brown: Well, I'm signed to Fool's Gold, so I don't think they would let me put out another project for free at this point.
NUVO: You've also talked about hip-hop splintering in the last few years, opening up spaces for you, Macklemore, Mac Miller, other guys. Could you expand on that hip-hop splinter?
Brown: What do you mean?
NUVO: I guess, Danny, honestly I would just like to hear you talk about the state of hip-hop in 2013 and what is important and influential to you right now.
Brown: What's important to me is probably not important to everybody else, you know?
NUVO: I'd like to hear what's important to you specifically, though.
Brown: Me, personally, I just listen to what I like. I don't care about the other shit that's involved with it. I've been listening to hip-hop since I can remember, but I'm not even going to call it hip-hop; it's rap music to me. Hip-hop is fucking, like, a lifestyle that you live, and I don't see nobody around here spray-painting or fucking DJing in a park. That's hip-hop. You know? This is rap music. My take on it is that I like rap music with hip-hop intentions. And what I mean by that is hip-hop to me is when somebody is doing something authentic to them, and not doing what they think hip-hop should be.
There's a lot of people who'll sit around and tell you that somebody like Gucci Mane isn't hip-hop. Gucci Mane is hip-hop; Gucci Mane don't need to be making A Tribe Called Quest songs; that's not his life. You know? So I like stuff that I think is authentic. That's what I listen to.
NUVO: You mention being young and listening to music; I know I've read that you've been rhyming forever and that your mom read you Dr. Seuss books. I'm really interested in what music does to young brains, and how it ends up influencing us later. Can you remember a few specific things you were listening to when you were really, really young?
Brown: You mean, on my own?
NUVO: Or in the house - what was around.
Brown: When I was a kid, my pops was 16; he had me at 16, so I was probably with him in his early twenties, you know? He just listened to whatever was the hot rap music at the time. He was a house DJ, so I heard a lot of house music and electronic music, and I think the biggest inspiration for me in house was Loose Ends. My pops, my moms, everywhere I go, they played Loose Ends. Something about that album. Maybe, I don't know if something clicked in my family, but any BBQ, they were playing that album. I still listen to it to this day.