As if the countless delays weren’t enough, Danny!’s Definitive Jux debut was leaked a few days before it was to be released. This wasn’t the first time Where Is Danny? faced the evils of the Internet. An unfinished version hit the web over the summer and was promptly deleted. The most recent leak wasn’t finished, either, but it was apparently close enough to frustrate the 26-year-old rapper-producer. As a result, he leaked the unfinished album himself and announced that a mastered version with some bonus material would be available shortly.
Where Is Danny? is easily his finest effort to date. A little rough around the edges, sure, but focused enough. Danny’s lyricism and flow remain frustrating at times. He still lacks that extra punch in his voice and tries to “crameverywordhecan” into some bars. And his non sequiturs will no doubt annoy some of you. But that’s just his style; love it or leave it. And either way, he has obviously sharpened his skills, on display on the entire, hour-plus-long album.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Danny switches moods, topics, and flows so quickly and smoothly. One three-track span has him jumping from a catchy ode to breakfast (“Scrambled Eggs”) to reminiscing on a drunken fight (“Sloppy Joes Pt. 2”) to a hilarious, likely fictional tale of his relationship with his mother (“Mama I Want to Fucking Sing”). And it all ends up sounding like a hallucinogen-taking offspring of Madvillain and an early-‘90s De La Soul record. The rapping on here might not be on the level of those, but Where Is Danny? is right there in terms of concept and creativity. It’s also a huge departure from his earlier work. Gone is the plethora of soul samples he previously relied upon. They are replaced by psychedelic loops (“Hoedown Showdown”) and hazy instrumentation (“Manic! At The Disco”), many of which sound lifted from 1950s commercial jingles.
You can blame producer Alex Goose for that. His beats are as scatterbrained as they are immensely engaging. “Commercial Break” floats with an orchestra’s worth of samples while “This Is Your Life (In West Watch A-Ka-Tella)” is drenched in horns, organs, and a flurry of drums. And those are just his instrumental cuts. “Theme Music To A Killing Spree” was already a highlight thanks to the insanity of Danny and guest Danny Brown, who spits the album’s best line in “fire in our brain like Ichabod Crane.” It’s Goose’s layering of Jaws-theme piano, shakers, and watery guitar that takes it (and the entire album for that matter) to another echelon. He and Danny showed they were capable of greatness on 2008’s And I Love H.E.R. But Where Is Danny? is their fully realized epic, and a gigantic middle-finger to the music industry, to boot.