[DETROIT RAP CITY] If Drake is, as New York Times critic Jon Caramanica wrote last year, "all the emoji: prayer hands, dancing girls, diamond ring, blown kiss, laughing through tears," then Detroit's Danny Brown is the drunk smiley face, the mushroom and the smiling cat with heart-shaped eyes—a perma-stoned, violently hilarious and dexterous rapper remaking hip-hop one zany voice at a time. Though his biography might sound familiar—member of a failed early-2000s group called Rese'vor Dogs, brief stint in jail, former drug dealer—the music he makes is of a much weirder ilk. Since dropping free mixtape The Hybrid in 2010, Brown's been pushing his own blend of sonically adventurous hip-hop, somehow combining J Dilla soul, EDM bombast and twinkling synthscapes with a flow that can go from relaxed and mature to manic in less than the time it takes to switch to the next track. Last year's Old is his first masterpiece. Split into two distinct sides, it ranges from molly-ravaged club bangers like "Red 2 Go" and the Rustie-assisted "Side B (Dope Song)" to more experimental fare like the mesmerizing "Lonely," which references Radiohead and opens with the line, "Hipster by heart/ But I can tell you how the streets feel." Sometimes you have to be a little crazy to make great art. Other times, a lot crazy is even better.
SEE IT: Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., 224-8499. 8 pm Sunday, May 11. $17. All ages.