Danny Brown is not doing well.
Last night, the Detroit emcee revealed on Twitter that not only was he fighting a host of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, but that he was going through withdrawals, and the same people who had lined up to watch Danny Brown die like a rockstar were suddenly nowhere to be found.
Of course, he's right. From Keith Moon to Kurt Cobain, Jim Belushi to Chris Farley, Iggy Pop to Amy Winehouse, we've always been drawn to self-destruction. We love artists for tearing themselves open for us, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively, but that same love can be a trap. Danny Brown's success has been fueled by his drug use and his over-the-top personality, but while we can walk away (or more likely, just shut our laptops), Danny's left dealing with the damage. And that damage is real to Danny in a way that a song or a "Twitter meltdown" will never be to us.
Fame, especially fame based on self-destruction, is a deal with the devil that Danny has in large part made willingly, as have so many others, but then who in that equation is the devil?
Now I can't speak to which of his rapper friends have called him to lend some support—apparently only Donald Glover, who's openly struggled with his own recent depression—but I can speak to which sites have. Not many. So far only Pigeons & Planes and a small handful of others that I've seen, certainly not some of the larger sites that have been such ardent "supporters" of his in the past (you know, when that "support" involved profiting from chronicling his drug use).
Just like a fan, but in many ways much worse, the media's more than willing to line up and snap pictures of Danny striking his signature pose and serve as a window through which we can watch his self-destruction. But after the interview ends, after the pageviews have been duly logged, how many still care? How many are writing something like this now with anything near the speed they used to post him talking about his drug use.
And then, if something terrible truly does happen, watch those same writers, the exact same ones who drank with him and then stayed silent now, line up to write their tribute pieces.
To be clear, I'm by no means above that hypocrisy; hell, I drink with rappers on camera for a living too. I eat up every clip of Action Bronson bodyslamming security guards and smoking enough to put Wiz Khalifa in a coma. So if the worst were to happen and Action went the way of Big Pun, ODB, Pimp C and so many others, I couldn't claim to be surprised, or maintain any semblance of innocence. Like so many others I lined up to watch him break every rule of healthy living, it's why I celebrate him. Because he does everything we wish we could do, but are too afraid to.
But as I get older and the list of heroes I've seen die far before their times grows, as the crowd of friends and family who have passed away or ended up at midnight meetings gets ever larger, I'm having a harder and harder time looking at things like Danny Brown's Twitter feed without feeling something....something more than just the voyeurism of watching another rock star entertain us to death.
So for however little it matters, as sincerely as I can write this for someone I've never met and won't pretend to now on anything resembling a personal level, I hope Danny Brown finds some peace in his life. And if he has to leave the glare of hip-hop to find that peace, I won't go looking for him.