During a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, the Detroit native revealed Nas tried to sign him to Mass Appeal Records prior to him joining Warp Records — the British label synonymous with experimental acts like Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus and Boards of Canada — in 2016.
Despite the Queensbridge MC being his “favorite rapper,” Danny ultimately rejected Nas’ offer in favor of a more lucrative contract from Warp, through which he’s released two albums: 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition and 2019’s uknowhatimsayin¿ However, Brown admitted he sometimes has regrets about his decision.
“[Nas] wanted to sign me to his label,” he said. “I didn’t sign to him because… money. The other contract was more money, man, and that’s what it is. But sometimes I think about that. Did I make a mistake? Just because the artist that I looked up to my entire life, that made me be a rapper, tried to sign me, and I didn’t sign with him — all because of money.”
Danny Brown had high praise for Warp, who he said “has made me a better artist than what I actually am,” although he did express frustration at the delay over his upcoming album Quaranta, which he revealed has been finished for “like three years.”
Nas isn’t the only rap legend Danny Brown almost signed to. Prior to the release of his breakthrough project XXX in 2011, the Bruiser Brigade boss was briefly courted by 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records due to his relationship with Tony Yayo, with whom he released the mixtape Hawaiian Snow in 2010.
While 50 was a fan of Danny’s music, his eccentric appearance was a major turn-off for the Get Rich or Die Tryin’ rapper.
“It was a real thing. 50 was with it; he just didn’t sign me because of my jeans,” Brown told MTV in 2011. “He liked the music, but he didn’t like the way I looked. I understand where they were coming from with that, but you gotta understand where I’m coming from too: I’m from Detroit.”
Danny Brown ultimately found a home at Fool’s Gold Records, through which he released XXX along with his 2014 follow-up Old. In his interview with Joe Rogan, the 41-year-old MC recalled how Q-Tip — who later executive produced uknowhatimsayin¿ — was instrumental in making the deal happen.
“I wouldn’t say [Fool’s Gold] were really into signing me at the time, but Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest was real close with A-Trak, who’s one of the owners of Fool’s Gold, and they hung out,” Brown explained. “A-Trak was like, ‘We’re thinking about signing Danny Brown.’ Q-Tip was like, ‘N-gga, thinking? Are you retarded? This is one of the illest n-ggas!’ He broke it down to him, like what makes me so ill.
“So then he was like, ‘Fuck it. Yeah I’ma sign cuz.’ So boom, I signed for $5,000. Literally, $5,000. And it was SXSW happening the next week, and I had like two shows. I literally spent the entire signing bonus at SXSW the next week, so I had no money, super broke. I’m living off my girl; her banking on me making it as a rapper.”
In addition to the long-awaited Quaranta, Danny Brown is also working on a joint project with fellow rap rebel JPEGMAFIA. The duo — who previously worked together on “Negro Spiritual” and “3 Tearz” — performed together at the Smokers Club Festival in May, where they debuted the “first song” from the project.