Adult Swim’s Singles program dropped a track from rapper Danny Brown and producer Clams Casino last year. Entitled “Worth It,” the song finds both artists at the top of their game and makes one wonder why they hadn’t previously collaborated.
The first noticeable thing about the track is how trippy it is. Clams Casino (real name Michael Volpe) has been seen as one of hip-hop’s most distinctive producers in recent years for his meticulous attention to song structure and moody soundscapes. “Worth It” continues this trend with its surreal beat and unorthodox recording methods. It often recalls the work of Madlib with its weird textures and soul influence, but Clams Casino adds more electronic experimentation to his concoctions.
This is why Danny Brown is such an ideal rapper for Clams Casino to collaborate with. The Detroit-based emcee has been known for applying his strange cadence and flow to genres that aren’t necessarily deemed hip-hop friendly (such as EDM and Acid House). While Clams Casino’s music tends to be a bit more subdued than that of Brown’s past collaborators, here he’s turned his rapping down a notch. It’s still unmistakably Danny Brown’s punk-esque drawl we’re listening to on this song, but there’s a modicum of restraint here as well. Brown isn’t as manic, and there’s even a degree of pity to him.
Brown has often been mistaken for being a hedonistic rapper. While, yes, his songs often entail doing copious amounts of drugs and having sex with his fan base, there’s always been a sense of shame in his lyrics that allow us to understand that the rapper isn’t happy with his condition. The song starts out boastful, but when the chorus hits Brown’s lyrics become more provocative. “Is it really worth it? / The fast cars and ice. Do you want that life / Is it really worth it? New girls every night. Do you wanna live that life?” The second chorus is more cautionary too, starting out with descriptions of heavy drug use and ill after effects. Brown even gets nostalgic talking about being “snot-nosed” and “dreaming of a studio,” giving the song an unexpected and fully potent emotional effect on the listener.