Nitish Pahwa invented the cure for the black lung.
When Danny Brown released “Pneumonia” as a single for Atrocity Exhibition back in August, he told Zane Lowe “That’s the party one, that’s the one I’m having fun. It’s just a fun song.” If so, it’s the soundtrack for a party far more sparse and off-kilter than you’d probably want to attend. The music is a haunted forest of echoing chains and bells, heavy drums, and crazed adlibs. But you can hardly expect different from Brown, whose music obliterates the frail border between celebration and despair. Here, just as throughout Atrocity Exhibition, sharp pain and masochistic pleasure rub shoulders with maniacal glee. He stares into the abyss and makes it head bang.
In the recently released video for “Pneumonia.” Danny Brown is suspended by multiple shackles, locked at the neck, hands, and feet. The chains are metal puppet strings that toss him this way and that, sometimes brutally dragging him along the parking lot surface. Whoever controls the chains relishes in his pain. Interspersed is vintage-looking film of Brown as an impassioned politician, cutting to footage of avowed hip-hop villains Ronald Reagan and Bush Senior as they smugly address crowds of smiling white people. It all makes for a chilling, apocalyptic effect. Less a “fun song” than a nightmare.