Danny Brown begins ‘Worth It’ with a vocal stuck somewhere in the distance and slathered in reverb. “Shadow boxing with Jesus…” he yaps, his voice smothered by crashes and bleeps from cult cloud rap producer Clams Casino. The track – which follows tracks from Cherry Glazerr, Yung Lean and more as the latest in this summer’s Adult Swim singles series – continues in the same uncomfortable vein for three minutes.
The Detroit rapper’s delivery is slippery and hyperactive as usual, but he seems in particularly violent mood. He shouts suddenly to herald an aggressive opening verse: “Smoke ‘til I get a headrush/ Looking at you rappers like breakfast/ No apologies for what Imma do to ya”. Clams Casino’s accompaniment barely qualifies as a hip-hop beat, threaded with irregular drums, sudden crashes of effects and the kind of piercing guitar favoured by Mount Kimbie. Unsettling in a similar way to ‘Hours’, his contribution to last year’s FKA Twigs album, it acts as a bed of nails for Brown’s equally sharp lyrics. “Machete on a haystack/ Around these needles putting poison in your veins”, he yells at one point, heralding a minute-long sequence of rapidfire, scarcely intelligible bars punctuated by strangled grunting. Underneath, Clams builds tension with fearsome bass rumbles and more guitars.
After an inhospitable mid-section, the smoke clears and Brown’s message crystallises. “Is it really worth it?” he asks, “For fast cars and ice, do you wanna live that life? Is it really worth it? New girls every night, do you wanna live that life?” Whoever he’s talking to, his threatening tone suggests they’d do well to listen.