June 18, 2012

Jonah Bromwich is blaming everything on Jimmy Iovine.

Danny Brown obviously deserves to be popular. He’s talented and has a performative personality that demands attention  — which would be worthless if not backed by said talent.  While everyone’s pleased that Brown is succeeding off merit, one of the nicest things about his rise has been his function as a lodestar drawing attention to other slept-on artists. Note his big-upping of Arthur Lee and Love’s classic Forever Changes in his instant classic exchange with ASAP Rocky. Or see his other up-to-the-minute tastemaking — “Cobra Commander” — his new song with the great Open Mike Eagle.

Brown’s verse here functions similarly to his turns on “Terrorist Threats,” and “Killer Tofu,” providing a wild, screechy foil to the more composed verse of the principal artist. He’s the sideshow, the freaky bearded lady who attracts you to the carnival so that the unassuming magician can hold your attention long enough to set up some sleight of hand.

Seeing that the magician is Mr. Eagle, the show necessarily consists of unbridled intelligence and a dark political humor. The always savvy Eagle Mike gently parodies conspiracy theorists, and (maybe) indicts the president, by “blaming everything on cobra commander.” If you’re a fan of terrible action movies and/or Chan Tatum, you know the villain in question is currently in charge of the (fictional) White House. The counts against the commander? Putting computers in the voting booth, passing out crack and crystal meth to the local youth, pulling pigtails, running up in the “get wells” and snatching all the piss pails, amongst other misdemeanors.

What’s great about this verse is how Mike hedges his bets, forcing the listener to decide how serious he is. If you’re me, it’s a joke, making fun of the inherent simplicity of pinning all problems to a single entity. And if you’re not, this is another cut that has you thinking terrorist thoughts. No matter your political bent (left or FAR left), Brown’s presence probably had you downloading this, even if you had never heard of Mike before. And Mike’s got the magic to make one listen count.


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