Danny Brown had it made. The foul-mouthed Detroit rapper won acclaim from Spin, which named his
the best hip-hop album of 2011. MTV.com called him one of rap's standouts. And he got a number of click-to-pick mentions for his forthcoming album,
. With his naughty lyrics, throaty yowl, and love of electronics on the house and techno tip, his creds were strong.
Brown needed no headlines, then, to pack the Theatre of Living Arts on Wednesday; it would have been a hot ticket no matter what. Yet headlines are what he got on April 26, after a Minneapolis gig during which a female fan rushed the stage and attempted to perform oral sex on him. He boasted on Twitter that he "didn't miss one bar bruh bruh" during this encounter. His tour opener, Kitty Pryde, kept it in the headlines. In a statement, she claimed the fan had put Brown (who gets repeated solicitations on Twitter) in a no-win situation, especially in the context of a show in progress: If he pushed her away, he'd look like an abuser, and if he did nothing, he'd look like a perv.
Brown's Philly crowd - populated by girls in tube tops - was more observant of propriety. But they sang along with every word in Brown's raunchiest tunes. The rapper never mentioned the incident. Grinning and flashing the devil's-horns hand signal, he ran through misogynistic numbers from XXX, Old, and more while doing an odd variation of the chicken dance. He was in constant motion, bouncing to stabbing synths and techno beats. If anything, he seemed to want more dope than sex from the crowd, requesting they throw joints on stage and turning "Blunt After Blunt" into a hypnotic anthem.
Brown's voice was reminiscent of Snoop Lion's flow - only with a bubble in his throat - as he cooed through "The Black Brad Pitt" and the subtly lovely "Radio Song." Throughout the latter, he proved he could take a tender melody and gently elongate his soft drawl for dramatic effect. Even more stunning was how he suddenly punctuated that drawl with a vicious bark on "Bruiser Brigade" and the night's loopy closer, "Express Yourself." Chauvinistic lyrics aside, Brown was goofily charming with his bracing take on electronic rap.