Danny Brown, Atrocity Exhibition- reflections on desire
It feels good to feel better than someone else, doesn’t it? I mean I might be overgeneralizing based on personal experience, but I know that self-righteous ecstacy that follows when condemning the actions of those society have universally classed as heathens, too well. Schadenfreude- German word- literally means to laugh at another’s misfortune. Schadenfreude can feel amazing.
Funny thing though, the effect of Schadenfreude is dulled when the heathens don’t fight back or even flinch at our finger pointing. This is why- and this is mostly speculation- a horribly untapped resource lies in the stories of unapologetic heathens. Reason probably being that a story is less marketable when the moral of said story is- I don’t care what you think.
Our heathen of the hour is the ever-Eccentric Danny Brown and the story, the aptly named-Atrocity Exhibition.
It feels good to be better than someone else
The artistic movement of excess
“But what was wrong with that? They were drunk on youth, fuelled by greed and higher than kites.” Jordan Belfort.
Writers Evan Puschak, and Izzy Black coined the term the new cinema of excess, to describe the films: The wolf of wall street and Spring breakers. Both films follow protagonists who hurt people, have fun doing it, then go home. That’s it, there’s no reveal that elaborates on how their actions were wrong all along or how you should “stay away from drugs kids.” The camera just lingers on these moments and then the movie ends. Wolf of wall street even notoriously had the character the film was based on appear in the movie to audience applause. Both movies are two of my favourite movies of the past decade, and Atrocity Exhibition, captures the ideas of both these movies on an album.
Aesthetically, this album sounds nasty- in every wonderful sense of the word. Paul White (the producer) crafts an immersive, industrial, noisy and pulsating rhythm that fuels the album for Danny Browns’ intense, shrieking voice to cut through like a freshly welded blade. The lyrics are toxic, intensely descriptive montages only the medium of rap could musically carry. All for what service (not glorification, like a lot of viewers of wolf of wall street seemed to think, inspiring an undeserved hatred of that movie) to tell a story. An uncomfortably revealing story, but a story nonetheless.
Look what you're drowning in the eye
So what is the moral of this story- I don’t care what you think. I should probably add here that a lot of the readers of this article will probably hate this album for the same reason I love it. This album paints elaborate acts of debauchery without glorifying or condemning them, it just lingers on them- uncomfortably. And like a car accident, something inside forces you to listen, wait for some gloriously condescending conclusion; a moral to the fairy tale. The moral is never given, the album just lingers- and it hurts, and I love it.
The beauty of Atrocity Exhibition is that even hating it is a profound experience. Maybe I’m generalizing again, but Atrocity exhibition is brilliant because listen enough times and the voice yelping at you begins to sound familiar. Eventually, listening to this album started feeling like meeting a reflection of myself. A version of the self I still catch myself using various techniques to drown- can’t afford being the victim of all that finger pointing. Atrocity Exhibition is a testament to the stories of unapologetic heathens, because only they can help identify that ultimately you have the potential and ultimately desire to be just like them. Within us desires scream for air, it’s at least useful to look what we are collectively drowning in the eye. But ultimately who cares, I’m just an unapologetic heathen.
Atrocity Exhibition, if you're interested
The wolf of wall street, better every viewing
© 2017 Samuel