SAN FRANCISCO — Detroit rapper Danny Brown, touring the aptly titled album, uknowwhatimsaying¿, swung through August Hall on Saturday.
Brown strutted onto the stage, took a moment to survey the crowd and dropped into the first single on his new album, “Dirty Laundry.” The song’s beat wafted a fuzzy soul sample through the air while Brown told a story of some about his past sexual encounters in his signature nasally yap. After that he swiftly moved on to more songs such as collaboration with Evil Nine, “The Black Brad Pitt.” Brown’s unique vocal style paired well with the thick, vibrating bass notes and a large array of sounds found in Brown’s varied production toolbox.
Brown then took his flannel shirt off and shifted the show into high gear. This next section of the set was an aggressive experience as the energy elevated for drug-fueled cuts from his third album, Old, like “Dip” and “Smokin & Drinkin.” Both songs highlighted the mania of Brown’s darkest and most out of control moments. The latter is where Brown brought the crowd’s energy to join along for the second half of the hook, resulting in a “smokin’ and drinkin’/ drinkin’ and smokin'” call and response. The menacing rave vibes pulsed through the crowd, showing how Brown knew how to keep his fans engaged and invigorated.
After whipping the room into a frenzy, Brown pivoted again into some of the more twisted songs from his debut album, XXX, including “I Will” and “Lie4.” They were enveloped in a sticky, psychedelic vibe. Brown rapped along to the sounds that could only be described as airplanes taking off or a group of bees buzzing frantically. Next came a few of his more popular tracks like “Really Doe,” best known for featuring a verse from Kendrick Lamar; and “Ain’t It Funny,” which had enveloping bass and evil circus horns. Brown’s most uplifting song, “Grown Up,” came next, with its youth chorus refrain and wide eyed perspective.
If there’s one strike that could be leveled against Brown throughout this show, it’s that he never deviated from his high-pitched tone. While it’s certainly his most recognizable vocal trait, use of his more mature and somber voice—as heard on Old tracks like “Lonely” or “Clean Up”—could have brought some variance to his set. Regardless, Brown’s choice to stay stay locked in on party mode was still executed well.
Eventually, Brown wound down with a three-song encore. Run The Jewels collaboration “3 Tearz” with its mournful organ led into “Best Life,” where Brown spread his arms outward in a victory lap, and concluded with “Combat” and its Q-Tip feature for his closing selection.
Literally colorful North Carolina rapper Ashnikko preceded the headliner. She came out sporting a yellow jersey and her signature neon blue hair and took command of the stage, dancing and hopping back and forth while quickly ripping through songs from her new EP, Hi, It’s Me.
Ashnikko’s set was full of confident sexual energy. If she wasn’t telling off into an ex, she’d be boasting of her next conquest. While her verses could sometimes blend together, the highlight of her songs were definitely the bright and catchy hooks. Eventually she rounded things out by addressing the audience with a quick PSA on consent.
“Some people think it’s hard, but it’s actually very easy,” she said, before launching into her final song, “Invitation.”
Detroit rapper and Bruiser Brigade crew member Zelooperz opened the show
Follow writer Josiah Skallerup at Twitter.com/josiahskallerup.