What Danny Brown is Saying About Vaping, “Seinfeld,” and Vitamin C

Published October 7, 2019

Photo by Tom Keelan.

On his latest release, uknowhatimsayin¿, the rapper Danny Brown knows exactly what he’s saying. The album, which was produced by Q-Tip—a first time collab for Brown—and features heavyweights like JPEGMAFIA, Standing on the Corner, and Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, is somehow as giddily hilarious as it is firmly grounded. In the music video for the lead single, “Dirty Laundry,” Brown spins an epic raunchy yarn of sexual misadventure, playing up the high-pitch, high-octane lunacy that made him famous, all while dressed as a doddering old man. Upon its release, the video’s gently absurdist tone had fans crowning Brown the new Eric Andre. It’s an apt comparison: Not only does Brown have his own show, Danny’s House, produced by The Eric Andre Show’s David Beckles, this album is also heavily influenced by the comedians Brown runs with. Of course, Brown knows he’s funny; he calls the release his “stand-up comedy album” (“I know I might be trolling, right?” he says), and if you blink twice the album’s cover could be a reincarnation of Richard Pryor’s That Nigger’s Crazy.

But, ultimately, uknowhatimsayin¿ is no joke. Brown drops into  lower registers often, contrasting chaos with careful control in lines. Brown’s been heard by millions since the release of his The Hybrid in 2010. But when we sat down to ask him our version of a Rorschach Test, getting his take on everything from his dream of a Dave Chappelle presidency to his nightmare of a bad Danny Brown wax figure, we got the sense that he’s only now finally ready to speak. “This is my first time talking to people more. Not trying to be a miracle but saying just what’s on my mind out here,” Brown tells me, pausing a beat before going on: “You know what I’m saying?” 

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DAVE CHAPPELLE

“Is a legend. That is my idol. Dave Chappelle could be my president. In my world, he would be my president.”

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THE GAY GERMAN PENGUINS WHO ADOPTED A BABY

“What? They really had a baby? Was it a human baby? That is the dumbest shit ever.”

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FACETUNE

“Oh, wow. So catfishing is hardcore now. You know what I’m saying? I don’t really know anything about that stuff, but they’re making it for the kids, too. They’re making people have all these filters. Kids are getting delusional representation of who they supposed to be, in some sense. I don’t know if that’s cool for kids’ self-esteem growing up.”

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GRETA THUNBERG

“She’s amazing. She’s tremendous. I like to see teenagers be aware of what’s going on in the world today. I don’t know really too much about climate change, but that’s cool. She’s very aware about wanting to help out in the world.”

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VAPING

“You’re going to kill yourself doing that shit. I’ve heard people, and they talking about throwing up blood. At the end of the day, man, why would you want to smoke something that tastes like basil? You’re going to die smoking weird flavors. Like, watered cucumbers and shit like that.”

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TAYLOR SWIFT RE-RECORDING HER MUSIC

“Oh, that’s smart. I think she’s a genius for that one. Shout out to Taylor Swift: You’re putting ideas in people’s heads now.”

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FLAT EARTHERS

“I mean, what does it matter? Why is that a big deal? I feel they are too passionate about something like that. There is so much in this world you could only give a fuck about. Giving a fuck about the earth being round or flat—that shouldn’t be a concern. Honestly, I’m pretty there’s something else you got to be guiding your energy towards.”

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SEINFELD

“It’s one of those things that’s just very common and calming for me. Growing up, my dad watched a lot of Seinfeld at home. I could just put it on, and it makes me feel cool. Reminds me of my childhood. I have a nostalgic connection feeling to that show. If I’m having a bad day or something, I’m going to lazy day and watch Seinfeld. It’s like a meditation.”

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JERRY SEINFELD

“His shoe game is fire. He has a very fire shoe game.”

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VITAMIN C

“You need it. You got to get it in your life. Especially when you don’t eat vegetables and fruits the way I do. I don’t drink that orange juice stuff, but I take a lot of Airborne and shit like that for flights. I don’t know why Vitamin C is such a strong thing that kills sicknesses and shit, but I love it. Shout out to the vitamins. You need them in your life.” 

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THE MASKED SINGER

“It looks fun. It also looks like something I wouldn’t watch on TV.” 

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WAX FIGURES

“Oh, they fucked up that Beyoncé one, remember? That’s the first thing I think of when I think of a wax figure. They fucked Beyoncé up! I don’t want them to do me like that. You don’t want to be up there like Beyoncé at—what’s that, Madame Trusopp’s? How do you say that that shit? But I would like a wax figure one day.”