I’ve written very recently about our collective tendency as music fans to treat the same musicians we celebrate like shit.
There’s some disconnect that occurs once a human being reaches some arbitrary level of exposure, a moment when they’re no longer granted the same niceties we would offer our neighbors or friends, and are instead themselves treated like the art they create—objectified, touted as trophies in photograph and story.
When an artist like Danny Brown comes along and is brutally honest about his issues with depression, anxiety and drug addiction, we give the obligatory moment of feigned concern and then continue on with questions about the next album or why he’s not working with SKYWLKR anymore. For Danny, however, life continues to imitate art and vice versa, and no one seems to be taking his cries for help seriously.
Today (March 28), Danny released the video for “Ain’t It Funny,” a standout track from his excellent, recently-released album Atrocity Exhibition, for which he tapped Jonah Hill to direct. In it, he addresses his unfortunate reality in outrageous Danny Brown fashion.
Holy shit, this video is incredible, hilarious and terribly, uncomfortably sad.
The video finds Danny’s plight personified through an '80s sitcom lens that’s equal parts Natural Born Killers’ “I Love Mallory” scene and Adult Swim’s surreal dark comedy short “Too Many Cooks”(a phenomenon I admittedly wasn’t aware of until fellow DJBooth scribe CineMasai schooled me), complete with legendary director Gus Van Sant playing the typical sitcom dad.
“Ain’t It Funny” is an entertaining, yet brutal look into Danny’s array of very serious issues, a sort of cartoonish metaphor for Danny’s own life as an artist. The worse his mental health and drug problems get and the more heartbreakingly honest he becomes in his music, the more we lap it up and move on with our lives without giving his pain so much as a second thought.
The painful irony is that the video for “Ain’t It Funny” is Danny’s most dramatic and forthright cry for help, and it will inevitably be met with reactions that mirror the horrifyingly oblivious reactions of his faux family in the video. We’ll watch the video a few times, talk about how crazy it is that he got Jonah Hill to direct it, laugh at the surface-level sitcom satire, and then we’ll move onto the next Joey Bada$$ video or Kendrick Lamar single.
Make no mistake, it will happen. And when it does, Danny will still be suffering. Ain’t it funny how it happens? Ain’t it?