Download: Danny Brown, “Grown Up”

Danny Brown’s excellent XXX mixtape from last year is one of those releases that reveals something new each listen, and I’ve been frequenting it more often than any other hip-hop release of late. From the ridiculously explicit “I Will” to the depressed “Party All The Time” to the socially blunt, wiring-stealing theme “Scrap Or Die”, there’s no base not touched. It’s still remarkable to me.

Danny Brown, “Grown Up”

The only thing that troubles me is that XXX–titled partially after Danny Brown’s age at the time of its release, 30 years old–sometimes feels as though it could be Brown’s magnum opus. It’s a victorious, insanely rich album, but imagining it as the peak of Brown’s career is too easy, and too much a bummer.

That’s one of the reasons this clean, Scion-sponsored “Grown Up” is so refreshing. For one, it seems that the praise Brown received wasn’t obligatory, and that much of the buzz he received from XXX was the product genuine, realized appreciation. That is, we’re just seeing the beginning of Danny Brown’s stardom, and for this we should all be thankful.

But really, I also can’t say enough for a how refreshing a censored and also damn good track like “Grown Up” feels right about now. I’ll explain:

Every slightly tropical or feel-good release that surfaces this time of year is supposed to be “summery”, which I find a bit ridiculous. I don’t think the summer feel is necessarily about just feeling good and  soaking in the sun, Sheryl Crow-style. The reason we revere summer as kids is because it’s a few months of pure freedom, meaning plenty of time to hang out with kids around the neighborhood, go to camp, or just sit around doing whatever. For me, that “doing whatever” was listening to a lot of hip-hop radio and appreciating the “clean” versions of songs (Nowadays, when I hear the “dirty” versions of songs like Nas’ “Made You Look”, it just doesn’t feel right).

Aside from the obvious reminiscence, breezy 90s beat and the looped cheers of children, “Grown Up” is foremost summery because of that fresh-off-the-radio sound: scratched out expletives and references to “blunts”, as well as what sounds like a live scratching of the chorus. It’s a short track, but it sounds like summer in a more relatable way, which is quite welcome. So I say “Long live the radio edit!”, especially if it gives more underrated emcees like Danny Brown another platform.