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The 50 Best Rapper Mixtapes

14. Danny Brown, XXX (2011)

You can't be blamed if your first impression of Danny Brown was either (A) This sounds like a jungle cat being thrown into a dryer, (B) This person—or at least their hair—looks like a jungle cat emerging from said dryer, or (C) Oh, god: What the hell are hipster rap fans trying to make catch now?

The answer turned out to be a Detroit rapper concerned with such typical rap themes as...blowing Adderall and stealing copper wire. And who's going to rap about Adderall and stealing copper if not Danny? Not you. Not Big Sean. Not even, these days, Eminem.

Nobody had represented for the weirdest, most ratchet side of rap—or Detroit, or people without great dental benefits—in far too long, until 30-year-old Danny Brown dropped XXX and lit a firecracker under the ideas of other rappers who thought they were putting forward something unique.

Pitchfork approval aside, XXX achieved that undeniable element of shot-out-a-cannon success crucial to a memorable mixtape. Good thing G-Unit wasn't down with those skinny jeans: As we all know by now, 50 was about to sign Danny if it weren't for the look. Instead, Danny doubled down on his style, both sartorially and musically. The result? As Mr. Brown would have it: CHECK. —Foster Kamer

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