Song of the Week #2

Alex Ralston and Brock Burnett

Alex’s Pick

Danny Brown – “Party All The Time”

Danny Brown is a Detroit-based rapper who began his career with his 2010 debut album “The Hybrid,” which showed off a unique style of rapping that also exhibited a lot of personality. While the album was unique in terms of rapping style, I didn’t really see the appeal at the time. However, he still seemed very charismatic and proficient. In 2011, he released his sophomore album, “XXX,” the title being a reference to his age at the time he recorded it. Danny kept his signature “hybrid style” (meaning he switches from a cartoonishly high register to a much lower and composed one between tracks) but changed the instrumentation up a bit. He also released “Old” in 2013, an album that was reminiscent of “XXX” but differed in the fact that he hopped onto the trap bandwagon for instrumentals.

My favorite album that Danny’s done is “XXX” because its arrangement shows the interesting duality of Danny’s personality. The entire first half of the album focuses on the party animal side of Danny, in which he’s rapping in his higher register. It’s a fun sound, and Danny constantly delivers very memorable lines. But the back half centers around the more sedated and insightful aspect of his personality; it’s on this side where we find “Party All The Time.”

This track kicks off with a very depressed electric piano rippling across the stereo, and after a couple of seconds, the drumbeat starts marching over it. I really enjoy the restrained bass notes that pop up during the hook and then suddenly disappear. The instrumental kind of reminds me of a dejected high school marching band holding some sort of morose jam session. And I love it.

Normally, when I hear the phrase “party all the time,” I obviously think of a party song. But what we’re getting here is kind of the opposite. The story that Danny is telling on this track is about some girl who he’s presumably dating. He details how she’s been dragging him around to parties, making him do drugs, and Danny is surprisingly worn out from it. As much as he wants to say no to her, he can’t bring himself to do it. The whole mood is reinforced by Danny tiredly sighing, “She wants to party all the time/ party all the time/ she wants to party all the time.” He even goes on to describe how her lifestyle is ruining her health and career options. It’s an interesting take on the party lifestyle, something akin to maybe what Death Grips or Clipping might do. It’s nice to hear a fresh take on somewhat overdone subject matter that plays as well as this song does, and I applaud Danny Brown for that above anything else.

Brock’s Pick

Kanye West – “So Appalled”

Kanye West is a rapper/producer that became known in 2001 for producing on Jay-Z’s album “The Blueprint.” West continued on to release his debut album “The College Dropout” in 2004, which is where his career as a rapper took off. West continued to release a slew of albums in the following years that varied in sound and style, but all of them had Kanye’s signature delivery. Whether it was a sad love song on “808s and Heartbreak” or an upbeat song from “Graduation,” Kanye was sure to deliver his lines with a certain moxie that made it feel like he was invested in each and every song he rapped on.

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is often hailed by critics as West’s best album. It covers a wide variety of sounds with all of its songs. The production value and the instrumentals are near flawless. The album’s lyrics mainly discuss greed and fame, while throwing in themes of sex, romance, self-doubt, and many others. The lyrical content is most likely an attempt by West to explain all of the factors that were on his mind during his controversial public appearances he made prior to releasing this album, including his tirade during the 2009 Video Music Awards and his remarks in 2005 stating that then-President George W. Bush “doesn’t care about black people.” All considered, this makes the lyrical content much more powerful than it already is.

“So Appalled” is one of the songs on MBDTF that has really strong emotion in the lyrics. It has a slew of featured artist like Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Pusha T and Cyhi the Prynce, all of which deliver great lines. The lyrics from all of the rappers talk about how they were doubted or sleighted previously, and how they feel “so appalled” that anyone would ever doubt them. This is more pertinent to Kanye than any of the artists due to all of the controversial events before this album’s release. His public image was tarnished, and he lost many of his fans. He was facing greater doubt than ever. The beat is really impressive. It isn’t so strong that it overtakes the lyrical value, but it feels like a harmonious synchronization. Overall, “So Appalled” is one of the more impressive songs on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” because of its lyrical quality and its great beat.