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Danny Brown 

Artist of the Year

If you would have asserted five years ago that a man with an asymmetrical haircut, skinny jeans and an affinity for Hawaiian shirts would be at the top of the alternative hip-hop mountain and the darling of myriad of indie music critics, you just may have been laughed at, or slapped. Well, Danny Brown is that guy, and he's on the onset of a major breakthrough. With his signing to indie label Fool's Gold, Brown went from being your fellow neighborhood rapper to a man with a serious shot at making it big.

After drawing everyone in with last year's The Hybrid, a montage of drug-induced, sex-fueled experiences through the eyes of Brown, people couldn't get enough of him. His flow was different, one that was set apart from the "swag" and "hashtag" rap that was emerging at the time. His voice was high pitched; the octave he rapped at could almost break glass. His attire was cool by hipster standards but missing the mark in hip-hop, a point that was made many times through the recitation of Brown's experience with 50 Cent and G-Unit. He meshed two cultures together and made it cool for young white kids to recite lyrics about blunts, pussy and D fitted caps.

Then XXX came in 2011. With whole songs dedicated to orally pleasuring women and lyrics like "my n*gga you ain't been through what I've been through/and if so, you'd take a pencil through your temple," the world has a more clear-cut definition of just who Danny Brown is. He's the guy who tops Spin's Album of the Year list without even aiming for it. He's the guy who hits Complex Magazine's Best Dressed list for wearing a tiger-themed hooded sweatshirt. He's cool without even trying and exceptionally talented without wanting much in return. Now, at the beginning of 2012, Danny Brown reflects on the wild ride he's had.

ON WHAT TOOK PEOPLE SO LONG TO CATCH ON
I never had a timeline on what I was doing. Whether people caught on this year or five years from now, I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing. Plus, with music, nobody owes you nothing. You're given a God-given talent and if you're in a position to even make a penny off it you should be grateful. I wasn't trippin' off it.

ON THE TRAPPINGS OF FAME
I wouldn't say necessarily surprised by [fame] 'cause I don't really think I feel famous. I get recognized here and there, but it's in only certain places that they recognize you. I mean, the airport. I was at Miami at the Mac store and one person that worked there recognized me. For the most part I don't go out there very much. I just hang around my little circle. When I'm walking around New York and LA and stuff like that, people just stop and I actually think it's pretty cool. I was recently at Rockstar Games discussing some things with them and everybody in the office was taking pictures with me and stuff. I've been a fan of what they do for so long, it was just crazy to get respect from someone like that.

ON BEING CALLED A "WEIRDO RAPPER"
I think I just look at it like compliments [rather] than put downs, you know? 'Cause I'd rather be called a weirdo rapper than a regular rapper. To me being weird is a compliment... (laughs) ... it's saying you're not normal as everything around you and people may see it as fucked up, but it's not. A lot of people try to be weird and they come up looking stupid. It's not something you can just try to do. And that's the thing. It's not like I'm constantly thinking of what I could do next to stand out or shock people. Just do things as I feel. I think it comes across like that because people see it as natural, just an organic process with my music and my character.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING TRUE TO HIS ROOTS
It's important and it's not important. Most important for me is to touch base with my family. I'm thirty years old; I'd rather be in Hollywood than be on Grand River somewhere (laughs). I stay in Royal Oak now so I don't go back to the hood very much, for family functions and shit like that. I'm at a situation where I don't really need that in my life. At the end of the day I just really like living in Michigan as opposed to New York or LA. I'm happy with where I'm at.

ON DETAILS FOR HIS NEXT ALBUM
I can't really say what I'm gonna do to be honest 'cause once you say you're gonna do something everything just popped up. I'm gonna start working on music this January, but that doesn't mean to expect a project anytime soon.

ON HIS OUTSPOKEN SOCIAL MEDIA HABITS
It gets me in trouble all the time. Not necessarily in trouble. I don't know with the whole Rolling Stone thing, it was taken out of context, you know? I don't even think I'm famous like that so I'm just having regular conversations with people, I don't expect for the whole world to be reading that shit. I think it actually fucks it up more so for the journalists because you want to be able to get a person to [be honest] in an interview, you don't want someone to be dodging your question. I hate reading interviews like that myself. I want to keep it pure and I want to keep it right with ya'll, but when you do an interview with somebody and the interview is about the "Monopoly" interview and then it comes out me dissin' Mac Miller. At the end of the day I stand behind what I say because I just say what I feel. I don't have to really think about what I have to say, but at the end of the day that's all I can do, just be me. | RDW

For more info about Danny Brown, go to foolsgoldrecs.com and follow Danny on Twitter @XDannyXBrownX.

Artist of the Year
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