Danny Brown went on NPR’s Microphone Check this week to reflect on his rise to stardom. Co-hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad (one of Brown’s early mentors) and Frannie Kelley quizzed the rapper about his roots in Detroit and the musical influences therein.

On his hometown Detroit:

Any time I’m not on the road doing shows, I’m home. I just stay in the house, chill, play video games, play with my cat. I got a Bengal cat. Her name is Siren.

The music he grew up with:

They didn’t play rap…even if they did play rap songs in the club, they still sped it up to 140 bpm. That’s our heartbeat, 140 bpm. I like my music fast, I know that much.

The first album he bought on his own:

Illmatic was the first album that I kind of bought on my own. And then the first time I heard it in its entirety, it was so descriptive — I’d never been to New York before but I felt like I was in the middle of Queens after it was over with.

On dying young:

Let me die old. I judge my life by video game consoles. I want to see what the PlayStation 7 look like, you know? I made it to see the 4, I gotta get to the 7.

On his writing process:

I get so many beats so I just listen, listen, listen. And maybe I might hear a beginning or I might get a beginning line or I might get a hook or I might get something and I just make sure I jot it all down and jot it all down, then one day the whole song might come together. Just sit there all night and piece stuff together and just write songs and write. I mostly want to capture an emotion than to actually say a perfect rap. I might say words wrong, I might say something that don’t even make sense, but I’mma keep it.

On Grandma:

My grandma used to beat me with golf clubs and stuff like that…my grandma never played no games, for real. So I know how my moms probably grew up. But I love her for that. So I guess if anything man, she gave me heart. I can say that for sure. My grandma ain’t raise no punks.

Hear the full interview below:

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