Song of the Day: Danny Brown — “Best Life”

Douglas Martin waxes poetic on a highlight from the Detroit MC's latest album.
By    November 18, 2019

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Douglas Martin got more deals than the Olsen twins.

Danny Brown’s sense of nostalgia is usually either haunted or severely damaged. His back catalog is rife with conflict, trauma, anxiety, casual drug abuse leading to addiction issues. The erstwhile Adderall Admiral used a singular appetite for hedonism to bury and forget his starker memories of life in the hoods of Detroit before its days of We Got it 4 Cheap gentrification. But leave it to the hero of an ageless strata of hip-hop first broken in during the early-90’s to bring out the beauty in the 38-year-old Brown’s excavated memories.

The Q-Tip-produced “Best Life” — one of three of the tracks he helmed on Brown’s outstanding fifth album uknowhatimsayin¿ — gleams like sun breaking through the clouds while the wordsmith spins gold to match the hue. Danny lays to remembrance boiling hot dogs in the same cookware as crack copped from the supplier, window shopping for sneakers on the feet of neighborhood dealers, playing hide and seek in the same places scouted to hustle grams later in life, toilets in county lockup, hopping off the porch before knowing what he was getting himself into, “guns drawn on my front lawn,” catching the bus with re-up money and a burner.

He tries to lay the past to rest like bad chick that left him for a dude with money, but it all comes full-circle like the ex who wants you back. (A perfect theme as we ease out of Mercury in retrograde.)

Augmented by these words, the video for “Best Life” — directed by Augustin Vita and rife with a rainbow of floral arrangements and Polo rugbys — serves as an episode the sort of impressionistic, visually immersive barely imagined before Atlanta. The blues and greens of $100 bills flying out of a bag to start a foot race with the cops. The chain-link fences, broken factory windows, and houses in desperate need of a paint job. Smoking weed in and selling crack out of the same car a mother gives birth and parents argue in. The rainbows of floral arrangements clutched by church ladies and overflowing along with weed smoke out of the living room. Whether or not you believe in reincarnation, “Best Life” is a reminder we all should be given our flowers before they spring from the dirt we’re buried in.

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