XXX

by Danny Brown

Released August 15, 2011 via Fool's Gold Records

Reviewed August 24, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
30 (55%), Die Like A Rockstar (34%), XXX (33%)

XXX is the ultimate testament to Danny Brown’s determination. Brown’s second album propelled his name to the forefront of the underground hip-hop discussion, and it was by no means a lucky break for the then-30-year-old. A key attribute of XXX is the abrasive production style, highlighted by loud and punchy percussion, with minimal happening around it, other than the occasional piano or guitar to tie it all together. This album represents the recollection of Brown’s 30 years of life; the themes are reflective of his perseverance and ability to craft lyrical narratives out of all that he has been through. Brown displays a knack for weaving in and out of instrumentals with his unorthodox delivery and packing each verse with clever wordplay. Not only is he consistently over-the-top with his sexual depictions, he oozes charisma without sacrificing an ounce of substance. But to characterize Brown’s abilities and the narratives of XXX solely as ones of drug use, sexual escapades, and eccentricities would fail to do this album justice. While all of XXX is loaded with intricacy, when you hone in on the last six tracks of the record, it is very clear the Detroit emcee is incredibly aware of both himself and his surroundings. And when it comes to articulating his observations, Brown is unparalleled. – Dominick (9.5/10)

Danny Brown is what a cartoon character would sound like if it rapped. Released in 2011, XXX explores the bipolar lifestyle of Danny where he is drug-addled and bouncing off the walls one minute and wallowing in depression the next. The beats he raps over are as insane as his persona, and his lyrics are as clever as they are obscene. The genius of this record becomes especially apparent at the track “DNA” where you realize that the first half of the record was the manic high and now comes the comedown. Danny’s voice drops and becomes sullen while the subject matter turns to more serious issues like drug addiction and urban decay. XXX is one hell of a trip. – Daniel (9/10)

XXX represents the grueling struggle that so many artists go through. Feeling closer to death than ever, wondering if their giant leap forward will ever manifest. XXX stands for 30 years of age for the Detroit emcee, while simultaneously foreshadowing the obscenities that pervade the album. A great deal of shock value catalyzed the virality of XXX, but it is far from the reason it’s so beloved. XXX is aggressively innovative, grisly, and powerfully descriptive, with Brown displaying the perfect mix of presence and potency behind the mic to certify this as an absolute hip-hop classic. – DeVán (9/10)

XXX is a poignant examination of Danny Brown’s life up to the age of 30, showing us all of his trials and triumphs through an unfiltered lens. From tear-inducing tales of stealing to feed his family and his addiction, to boisterous brags and raunchy tales of eating pussy, the album manages to hit so many different emotional and lyrical styles that sit perfectly next to a diverse set of instrumentals. The beats on this album are extremely strong, with an ever-shifting sense of aesthetic that keeps things fresh and allows for time to breathe amongst all the hype and sad stories. Danny Brown would do better things later, but XXX was his first great album and still remains an essential for 2010’s hip-hop. – Jared (9/10)

Danny Brown's seminal second album, XXX, takes the listener on a trip through Detroit and its seedy underbelly. Its narrative is split into two halves. The first half of the record paints pictures of drug-fueled escapades, while the second half showcases the self-inflicted psychosis that comes as the price of such indulgence. The party must come to an end, as does life; nobody makes it out unscathed. XXX’s material takes a more mature tone as the second half gets underway with “DNA,” welcoming a lesson-like Brown taking control of the wheel. This track is a warning of sorts for the risks of life in the fast lane. Nobody brings the same satirical-yet-straight up serious edge as Danny Brown. Not many artists have as many faces to their act. Brown's a bit of a Swiss army knife when it comes to the rap game. Some people are left of center, then there's Danny Brown. – Peter (8/10)


Dominick: 9.5/10 | Hadley: 9.5/10 | Daniel: 9/10 | DeVán: 9/10 | Jared: 9/10

Cam: 8.8/10 | Alan: 8/10 | Ben (Synth): 8/10 | Peter: 8/10