On Feb. 10, just months after his critically successful 2016 release Atrocity Exhibition, Detroit rapper Danny Brown dropped EP Accelerator in collaboration with producer Paul White. Brown is a polarizing figure for many. Some listeners cannot get past his outlandish high-pitched flow and sometimes bizarre lines. During a feature on A$AP Rocky’s song “1Train,” Brown showed off his vulgar sense of humor, one that some find off-putting, with the line, “Bitch pussy smell like a penguin.”
Those who can tolerate Brown’s stranger elements often discover that there is a deeper element to his music, with lyrics that often deal with his experiences living in poverty and dealing with depression. Brown also boldly ventures into realms that many rappers dare not touch, previously appearing on a remix to the indie-rock band Vampire Weekend’s “Step.” Brown’s most recent album Atrocity Exhibition, which featured several songs produced by White, was influenced by acts as diverse as Talking Heads and Joy Division.
In Accelerator, Brown and White again play with the influences of different genres, seeking to break new ground in the hip-hop world. Unfortunately, their attempts to expand the boundaries of rap on the title track are not successful. The EP consists of two songs with Brown, “Accelerator” and “Lion’s Den,” and instrumental versions of these songs.
On the first song, “Accelerator” Brown raps in his classic high-pitched delivery over stomping heavy-metal drums and psychedelic guitars. Rather than complement the rapper’s voice as traditional hip-hop instrumentals do, White’s production on “Accelerator” seems to clash and at times overpower Brown’s voice, with the end result being manic confusion. Though Brown should be commended for working in new influences to his music just as he did with Atrocity Exhibition, the execution on this song left something to be desired.
The EP’s other non-instrumental track, “Lion’s Den,” though still unconventional, is much more of a traditional hip-hop song. On the song, Brown plays with the themes of suicide and drug addiction, with the haunting hook, “Daniel in the Lion’s Den / Nobody knows will I make it out to fight again.” Despite the deeply personal lyrics, the song does not bring anything fresh or exciting to the table. Though the beat does feature an interesting vocal sample, Brown performs the song with a flow that will sound stale and familiar to those who have previously listened to his work.
While both White and Brown have a track record of producing unique and animating music, Accelerator did not come close to the creativity present in Atrocity Exhibition. This EP falls flat in terms of both freshness and listenability.