Motor City Crashes

Hotshot emcee Danny Brown knew he wanted to be a rapper since he can remember: "In kindergarten I'd say I wanted to be a rapper and people'd just laugh at me. 'That's a pretty funny job,' they'd say."

Maybe, but Brown, 27, has worked hard at his funny job. His first group, Rese'vor Dogs, had a local hit with "Yes." He ran for a couple of years in NYC with Roc-A-Fella A&R man Travis Cummings and artist Juelz Santana, and he recorded and dropped three volumes of his mixtape Detroit State of Mind. He's done guest spots with Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Trick Trick and on T3's new Waajeed-produced track "D Boyz."

What really got attention was Brown's Nick Speed-produced album Hot Soup, which dropped in July and definitely highlights Detroit's hip-hop renaissance and resurgence. Brown's follow-up album, The Hybrid, is set for early 2009. Then he'll finish his project with Frankie Bank$. Dude's busy.

And like many worthy artists, Brown doesn't have a home per se; rather, he crashes in three separate spots. "I kind of live on I-94, man," Brown cracks. He's got his studio and Xbox at his Grandma Nelly's east side house off Flanders Street. He crashes on Grandma Tina's couch on the west side off Linwood, and he hangs out at Uncle Too's house next door — the house he grew up in.

"It's a real Fred Sanford situation at Too's," Brown says with a smile. His uncle pays the bills scrapping metal, which covers the kitchen floor. An open stove provides the heat. It's definitely real in Brown's neighborhoods. (And kicking it in Uncle Too's living room with friends and family is also real fun.)

That neighborhood's rich in R&B history — practically everybody lived there back in the day.

"I get my influences over here," Brown says. "I just soak up the scenery and go back to the east side and write it. It's crazy. Even if I get off of Flanders Street I'll probably still go back there to write."

See Danny Brown perform Hot Soup Unplugged with the Gorilla Funk Mob on Friday, Dec. 12, at Oslo, 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit. For more info, go to