Last month, Danny Brown released his excellent new album uknowhatimsayin¿, which he made with executive producer Q-Tip. And last night, Brown was the musical guest on The Tonight Show. The obvious thing for Brown to do would’ve been a performance with the Roots. It would’ve made sense. Brown and the Roots come from adjacent corners of the rap underground, and they probably share plenty of friends in common. The Roots are used to doing live interpretations of Q-Tip beats. It probably would’ve been good. But Danny Brown does not do the obvious thing. So he did something else.
On last night’s show, Brown rapped the Q-Tip-produced single “Best Life.” (He’d already shared a video for the song earlier this week.) Brown did “Best Life” on a sort of optical-illusion stage. He started out sitting in a car, and as the camera panned out, it became evident that the car had been chopped into pieces, those pieces artfully displayed around the stage so that you couldn’t quite tell what was going on. As in the video, there were floral arrangements everywhere. Brown ended the song, cackling, by giving Jimmy Fallon a bouquet.
Brown has a great cackle, and we got to hear it a few times during the performance. He’s also a truly impressive live rapper, delivering his lyrics with the same force and clarity onstage as he does on record. But he’s not the wild fashion plate he used to be. On the show last night, he turned up in some Carhartt overalls and Timberlands. I applaud his decision. Watch the performance below.
uknowhatimsayin¿ is out now on Warp.