Detroit rapper Danny Brown on 'Hawaiian Snow,' potentially signing to G-Unit, and what it means to be a mutant

Danny Brown can't clearly articulate how or why he started calling himself "The Hybrid." He was clouded at the moment of its creation, smoking on "that ninja turtle," and writing punch lines like Conan O'Brien if he'd come up selling crack.

The nickname just stuck -- a necessary alias to offset his no-nonsense handle. It also assumes a weird logic, even though his Detroit hometown is not known as a hotbed of automotive environmentalism.

Instead, the "hybrid" of his moniker is the biological definition of the word. Brown raps like he's crossbred and full of cold blood. He's a reconciliation of ostensibly antithetical schools. His voice is all nasal-drip and comic exaggeration, the rap equivalent of a Looney Tunes chase, a lunge at impressive velocities with bulging eyes, flying feet, and clouds of choking dirt. Raised on West Coast gangsta rap like Spice 1, E-40 and South Central Cartel, he developed a love for the Wu-Tang Clan and East Coast hardcore in junior high and high school -- influences found in his florescent slang, street tales, and tetanus-clawed Marvel attack.

During the last decade, his musical philosophy was heavily informed by the Def Jux label, particularly Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox and Dizzee Rascal. In particular, Brown may be the closest American analog to the “boy in da corner” Rascal in the way he adroitly skates between high-brow, low-brow and occasionally searing introspection.

Yet Brown's style is inevitably most influenced by the Motown rap of recent vintage. At times, he boasts a rigorously patterned and hyper-lyrical flow reminiscent of Elzhi and his frequent collaborator Black Milk. At others, it's the unhinged and profane comedy of a "Slim Shady EP"-era Eminem (and his onetime Outsidaz crew). Accordingly, he's accumulated co-sign from various places, including those Lake Michigan-adjacent; the Lincoln Heights weekly party the Low End Theory (Samiyam, Gaslamp Killer, and Gonjasufi regularly tout him as a favorite); and Aesop Rock and his producer, Blockhead, the latter of whom have both raved about Brown's debut, "The Hybrid."

Unsurprisingly, his ascent to blog buzz has occurred without the help of a label. More impressive is his ability to do so without even a manager or publicist. That may change thanks to his partnership with G-Unit’s Tony Yayo. Of late, Brown has been in talks to sign to 50 Cent's imprint, and this week he and Yayo released, "Hawaiian Snow," Brown’s first commercially available release.

Because published interviews with Brown have been rare, Pop & Hiss spoke to Brown about his partnership with Yayo, his recording process and what it means to be a mutant.

How did you link up with Tony Yayo in the first place?

When I was recording [mixtapes] "Detroit State of Mind," Volumes 1-3, I was working with a producer who worked for G-Unit and was Yayo’s engineer. When Yayo got a movie role in "S.W.A.T. 2," he was shooting it in Detroit, so he hit me up and said, 'Come link up, chill and smoke.' So I went down there, and he was like, 'My homeboy told me about you.' I showed him the "Re-Up" video, went on my iTunes and played him a couple joints, and he said, 'You need to come up to New York with me.' So he took me on tour with 50 Cent all through July, and we built from there.

Are you going to sign with G-Unit?

I don’t know. Hopefully. We talk a lot about what we want to do with G-Unit, and how 50 is trying to build it by signing new artists and changing the whole brand. At the end of the day, the music [and stuff] that I rap about it isn't far from what G-Unit always does, nor is it very far from Eminem in terms of subject matter and wordplay. It's just a different approach to the same thing.

What's it been like working with 50, and what have you learned?

He's the smartest person I've ever met. I pretty much just watch and [...] Read more

Download "Hawaiian Snow" now

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Tags: Danny Brown, Detroit, G-Unit, Hawaiian Snow, mutant, rapper, tony yayo


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Comment by Timur on September 22, 2010 at 6:37am
50 sign Danny Brown and DNA!!!
Comment by Dl9ab on September 21, 2010 at 9:06pm
I've never heard nothing from him, but I'm sure he will not be as good as 50 himself.
That's why 50 never makes money with G-unit artist.
You should sign Papose, Cory Gunz (young money), artist that could bring you some PROFIT
This guy might be good but not good enough to make u richer.
Comment by STOP SNITCHIN on September 21, 2010 at 4:31pm
Comment by uriel rivas on September 21, 2010 at 4:10pm
i think 50 should sighn me instead
Comment by james on September 21, 2010 at 4:09pm
fif sign him
Comment by CaLi714`GIO-Unit`213CaLi on September 21, 2010 at 1:50pm
Lets go Brah...I believe in this dude...he seems special
Comment by Home Girl Crazy on September 21, 2010 at 11:29am
hip hop lives google shay9
Comment by DjBlackTop on September 21, 2010 at 11:15am
DB, dat n**** is nice luv hawaiian snow, flow, lyrics, creativity, style i f**** with em
Comment by frOGman on September 21, 2010 at 10:39am
trash? haha "swag D.Brown" doin his thing right now! Hawaiian Snow is FIRE
29c7f9qp14fty Comment by 29c7f9qp14fty on September 21, 2010 at 9:29am

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