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The Return of the Gangster

Rapper Danny Brown at the Waiting Room

Daniel Dewan Sewell, also known as Detroit-born rapper Danny Brown, cuts to the chase with one of the most unique voices in today’s rap game. He started rhyming as a child and, after spending time in jail at the age of 19, nearly missing his chance at the rap game, he’s now only beginning to peak at the age of 33. “I’m just getting started,” says the wild-haired rapper known for his unrestricted fashion and rap styles.

In 2010 he signed to Fool’s Gold Records, and shortly after that the label posted his video for “Greatest Rapper Ever,” from his debut album The Hybrid, on their blog. In 2011, he released his critically acclaimed album XXX on the label, for free on the internet.

Frequently labeled an internet artist, accurately or not, he leaves the business side of it in the hands of others to remain focused on the music. “I’m a rapper,” he says. “That’s what I do, I rap. I don’t know about business. It’s not my job, so I don’t really think about that.”

Now the rapper is on tour in support of his third full-length record, Old, which was released in October 2013. The album perpetuates his music’s home-city-heavy lyrical inspiration, clearly influenced by his life as a drug dealer on the streets of Detroit. The track “25 Bucks,” which features an unlikely collaboration with Megan James of electronic-pop band Purity Ring, paints a portrait of his home life and his appreciation for his maternal support.

“My mom used to braid hair in the kitchen to fucking feed us every night,” he says. “But it really started with a Bill Withers song. He had a song called ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ so I was like, ‘I need to make a song like that.’ And that’s why I did it.”

Honest and self-motivated, Brown does not consider himself one to lean on anyone as he strides upward. “I’m not that type of person. I just keep stuff inside, bottled up.”

At the age of 19 he spent an eight-month stint in jail after being caught on drug distribution and manufacturing charges and possession with intent to distribute. “I don’t want to go back to where I was at,” he says. From the streets to the studio, his motivation is to forever move forward. However, according to Brown, there are similarities in the hustle of the two lifestyles. “There’s not really a difference. I pretty much just keep it focused, you know?”

Brown does not use proverbial smoke and mirrors. What he says is who he is. Asked what he loves about music, he says, “I guess it’s the only thing I’m good at. It’s really a hobby for me, it’s fun.”

Danny Brown will make a stop in Buffalo on Wednesday, April 16, presented by After Dark Entertainment at the Waiting Room. A$AP Mob affiliate Bodega Bamz, and 20-year-old MC Zelooperz, part of Brown’s rap collective the Bruiser Brigade, will open the show.

“I’ll be in Buffalo, and I’ll be there having fun,” he says.

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