Welcome to Basement Dwelling, where I review new records that should be on your musical radar. What sets Basement Dwelling apart from other music review columns is that these are all albums that are currently residing in my record collection. No promo copy was given, no stream was listened to. Instead, a physical copy of an album was purchased before I listened to it. Don’t think of me as a critic, but as a music obsessive looking to open a dialogue about some of the best tunes that are currently being released.
Let’s head down to the basement and listen to Atrocity Exhibition by Danny Brown…
“This is the way…step inside.” Words uttered by the legendary front man of post-punk forefathers Joy Division on “Atrocity Exhibition” (named after the J.G. Ballard novel), the first track off of their album Closer. Closer would be the last album to be released from Joy Division, as front man Ian Curtis tragically committed suicide in 1980 just preceding the album’s release.
Joy Division, J.G. Ballard, and post-punk aren’t exactly the first examples that come to mind for influences on a hip-hop record. But then again, in Danny Brown’s case, when has he ever been what one would deem a “typical” emcee? Here, the Atrocity Exhibition you’re stepping into is the Molly and Jameson-addled, clinically depressive brain of Danny Brown — and what a glorious mess it is. If there’s anyone in rap music that could use Ballard’s writing as a metaphor for their art, it’s Brown, who coincidentally is also the Ian Curtis of modern hip-hop.