‘Atrocity Exhibition’, Danny Brown’s fourth solo album, was arguably the most agonising trip into Danny’s psyche – and quite possibly one of the best LPs of 2016. At the epicentre of this whirlwind of shrewd introspection and schizophrenic babbling was ‘Ain’t It Funny’, the instrumentation of which wouldn’t sound out of place at a circus. Probably not a normal circus, though; think less Cirque Du Soleil, and more Pennywise hoovering up a gram of coke and skipping around like a nutcase.
The visuals are pretty strange too. With the direction duties handed to Jonah Hill, the pair reimagine a (slightly) fictionalised version of Danny’s life in the aesthetic of an 80s sitcom. The video features legendary writer Gus Van Sant as the ‘dad’, Growing Pains’ Joanna Kerns as the ‘mom’, Lauren Alice-Avery as the ‘daughter’, some ‘fucking kid’ as the ‘kid’ (you know, the stereotypical twat that the laughter-track goes extra crazy for), and Danny Brown as the fucked-up ‘Uncle Danny’. Hopefully the irony isn’t lost on you: Danny is just playing himself.
Anyway, the clip itself just sets out to emphasise – in some form of narrative – what the song, and in fact the whole album, is trying to explain about Danny Brown: we, the listeners, find joy in Danny’s suffering; yes, he frames his tales of narcotics and mental health in a humorous light, but when you peel back the layers – it’s not funny at all. This is made quite clear when the ‘fucking kid’ (who, like the rest of cast, act as additional mouth-pieces for Danny) says, “He’s DYING and you people are LAUGHING. You DISGUST me”.
The thing is, it may seem that, on the face of it, Danny glamorises drugs, but in reality – he does the opposite: he makes them seem fucking scary; I’m pretty sure that if you were to play ‘Ain’t It Funny’ or ‘White Lines’ at the end of a D.A.R.E. convention, kids would run for the hills. So, with that in mind, give the guy a break.