Danny Brown

{grate 4/4}

Detroit just doesn’t stop. Maybe it’s the plight of a city in depression while the rest of the country’s stuck in recession, or maybe it’s the deep historic roots of Motor City music. Either way, Detroit has been running shit for a minute now in hip-hop. Up next is Nick Speed’s protégé Danny Brown, who — armed with sharp wit, intense delivery and an equally swift pen — is poised to continue the city’s hard-hitting traditions. Although street rap from an ex-con might look like the furthest thing from progressive hip-hop on paper, one listen to a Danny verse will show heads that he’s far from the typical mixtape rapper.

Brown’s debut is produced almost entirely by Speed, and though it sticks mostly to the streets of the D, struggling and smoking weed, Danny’s lyrical irreverence and Speed’s versatility save the album from redundancy.

The uncut energy of Juan Atkins-sampling single “What Up Doe” is infectious, but it’s even doper that the same duo can turn around and produce the heartfelt “Two Steps Back,” with neither seeming forced.

It’s refreshing to find a hard new artist who isn’t afraid to get sensitive at moments, and whether consoling his girl or selling crack, Danny raps every line on Hot Soup like it’s his last, channeling thug life into every last narrative.