On November 17, Danny! hit me up via email asking if I could review his new Definitive Jux album for one of my professional gigs. I responded yeah, let me see if I can get an assignment, and by the way what’s the release date? He responded, “It came out today.”
Surprised that I hadn’t heard anything about this — Definitive Jux tends to promote its releases early and often — I toggled over to the label’s site. However, I couldn’t find any information about Where is Danny? in the Pharmacy, Def Jux’s online store, or in the news section. So I emailed Danny again, asking if the release date had been pushed back. No answer.
Sadly Danny!’s long awaited album, Where Is Danny?, leaked on a few sites over this past weekend. Because of this, D. Swain’s camp decided to release the project for free download. However, all is not lost. Danny! is going to go back and revamp the album with some additional tracks. The newer version of Where Is Danny? will be going out to retail in a week or so via Def Jux.
Here’s a slightly different explanation from 2dopeboyz.com, which partnered with Okayplayer.com earlier this year:
Now this is a surprise. I was hoping for Danny’s new album to be released this month. But I wasn’t expecting it to be free! After all the countless delays from Def Jux, it looks like Danny! just wanted people to hear it. A retail version will be made available in the coming weeks on iTunes, which will contain bonus tracks, etc. And I hope you all support when that day comes.
The Internet swirls with facts, half-truths and occasional bald-faced lies. At least in regards to music blogs, everyone seems to agree that a few tall tales don’t matter, as long as it’s not malicious gossip about someone’s personal life. So Danny spreads numerous and sometimes-contradictory stories about his album — telling one person it is already out, and another that it will be on iTunes “in a week or so” — even as Definitive Jux remains tight-lipped on its status. No harm, no foul, right?
Danny is one of the great hustlers of the blog-rap era. He managed to parlay four self-released albums and a 12-inch deal won in a MTVu/Definitive Jux contest into notices in major outlets such as Pitchfork.com, URB and L.A. Weekly. His albums, including last year’s And I Love Her: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, sound messy and unrefined, a mix of raw talent and concepts. The 1997 EP Danny is Dead proved that he’s best at editing a tight, concise statement, but that strategy works against his instinct to get everything out now, before the audience disappears. As uneven as his material tends to be, it’s clear he has much to say, which can’t be said for the hordes of glorified freestylers, major label outcasts, local heroes and rhyme page rookies that clog rap blogs.
I’ve traded emails with Danny over the past two years, and interviewed him three times, posting two online.
I like to think deeply about putting a record together and not just record songs and slap them on a disc. I want the listener to enjoy the record and get into it. I don’t want them to have these [random] songs to listen to and put out a mixtape or whatever. I want the listener to have a great experience.
Where is Danny? pays homage to extended rap sessions like Madvillain’s Madvillainy. Danny capably mimics Madlib’s dusty loops by spinning dozens of sample-heavy beats, from the percussive “Hoedown Showdown” (with Von Pea from Tanya Morgan) to the off-kilter “George Wendt.” He’s no MF Doom, and he’s better at composing decent battle raps about Kid Sister (on “Theme Music to a Killing Spree”) than delivering bars in a convincing flow. Overall, though, he creates an hour of zippy, catchy tunes that mostly avoids the existential angst of his past work.
I think it’s going to be like Danny is Dead, where as far as the lyrics and concepts and beats will be totally left field, almost like a Madvillainy-esque project where the format is out there, and it’s not a formulaic hip hop record.
I can appreciate modest delights as much as major works. Although fans seem to tolerate mediocre old-school boom bap, when it comes to millennial rap they want those big statements. Even Slaughterhouse, as pure an Internet-hype product as I’ve seen, has eked out a few hits (Joe Budden’s “Pump It Up”) and good albums (okay, just Joell Ortiz’ The Brick: Bodega Chronicles).
At this juncture, we are not sure if we care anymore. The fact that we are getting a new Clipse album in December will probably overshadow any hip hop record released in the first quarter of 2010. The leaked song “Door Man” has already replaced “Dirty Money” as the new “we’re hitting the town” theme music. All Danny is offering are narratives on how to cook your way into a girl’s heart and/or bedroom.
Where is Danny and why should I continue to care?
This is an incredibly harsh opinion, particularly when juxtaposed against eager anticipation for a Clipse album that a few critics already believe is its worst to date. (However, considering Clipse’s Radiohead-like stature, I’m sure some will convince themselves that it is good.) It’s also slightly inaccurate; although Danny indeed feeds and fucks a paramour on “Sloppy Joe, Pt. 1” Where Is Danny‘s carefree beats and rhymes are a deliberate detour from the girlfriend-obsessed character of earlier albums. Impose usually supports indie-rap artists like Danny; another recent post focused on Galapagos4 emcee Robust. However, Robust doesn’t flood the blogs with pronouncements, new music, and interviews asserting his underrated talent. He quietly works at his craft, waiting to be discovered, and when you hear him he is your secret.
After a while, people get sick of that “next to blow” shit. But Danny’s music, and Where is Danny?, deserve to be enjoyed on its merits, not his press clippings, the quality of his promotional skills, or his years-long campaign for a breakout moment that may never arrive.