Rap music is continually evolving its sound. Far removed from the strict regime of sampled beats and 16-bar deliveries, hip-hop is now one of the most expansive genres around, incorporating pieces of rock, pop, punk, funk and everything in between one man who has been at the centre of that revolution is none other than Danny Brown.
The rapper has often resembled a mad scientist collecting some of the strangest and most gratifying samples to make his music. He’s been at the forefront of music for over a decade and continues to keep pushing himself towards new creative goals. Somehow, he has managed to do all this while keep the values of hip-hop at his core. That said, he still has a special place in his life for the music he loved growing up, including one classic track by The White Stripes which helped to inspire him to greatness.
Everyone can remember the gig that changed everything. For some, it’s a moment that confirms a particular band or sound is the one for you. For others, mainly musicians and artists, seeing a particular artist can inspire you on to further greatness. That’s exactly what happened for Brown when he witnessed The White Stripes performing in their native Detroit in the early days of the band.
“I went to this spot in Detroit called The Old Miami and saw the White Stripes play there, and you could tell home people was dick-riding them!” Speaking with Pitchfork, Brown struggled to align his own tastes with what he was seeing on the stage. “They was treating them like celebrities. I was wondering why people was acting like that, because I went there to see bands play all the time and I didn’t know about them. I lived in the neighbourhood and I would just go hang out there and try to pick up girls and shit.
“Listening to the music, I couldn’t get into it at first,” recalled Brown, “But then I heard ‘Hotel Yorba,’ and I was like, ‘Fuck, this is so good.'” It was a track that would announce The White Stripes as a unique proposition. The group were an uncompromising duo that were drenched in the filthiest of garage-rock blues. However, on ‘Hotel Yorba’ they opened up the American songbook and let rip. It struck a chord with Brown too.
“On that one you could more get into the lyrics and the song because the drums wasn’t so loud and going crazy. I fell in love with them right there,” the rapper continued. “And next thing I know they was on MTV. It changed my life in that sense of knowing that I seen these guys play in a dive bar in Detroit and now they on MTV and they was winning Grammys after that. They really gave me that inspiration that I could do it on my own terms.”
Inspiration can come in the strangest of places and when Brown heard The White Stripes performing ‘Hotel Yorba’ it would inspire him to keep achieving in music.
This article was first published through Hip Hop Hero.