Danny Brown came of age in the 1990s, and there was nobody who he wanted to be more than New York’s finest, Nas. His love for the rapper was so extreme that it even got him fired from one of his first jobs as a teenager.
Brown’s love of rapping came to him at an early age, thanks to his parents and his father being a DJ. When he was growing up, hip-hop was everywhere in his house, and he even once recalled: “In kindergarten, I’d say I wanted to be a rapper and people would just laugh at me. ‘That’s a pretty funny job,’ they’d say.”
Music always came first to him, and nothing else mattered during adolescence. Everything else was simply secondary, including school, work, and family.
In 1996, Brown was only 14 and was yet to lose his innocence. Hip-hop beguiled him and invited him into this secret world, even though he was yet to fully understand the intricacies of what his favourite artists were discussing.
“’96 was one of the biggest years for me, especially becoming a rapper,” Brown recalled to Pitchfork. “I actually had a job at the time, which was rare; I didn’t really work jobs. But I lied on this application at this buffet—I was 14, but you’re supposed to be 16 to work in Michigan. I’d been working there for about a year when Nas’ It Was Written came out.”
He continued: “I was already a super Nas fan: trying to dress like Nas, had my hair cut like him. I had to go to work the day it came out, but I remember buying the album at the mall and going back home and listening to it and just instantly saying: fuck work.”
This episode proved to be a life-affirming moment in Brown’s life as he put his job on the line for the sake of hip-hop, and the rapper had no regrets about deciding to spend his time worshipping at the altar of Nas.
“I called in and they was like, ‘If you don’t come to work you getting fired,’ and I was just like, ‘Well, fuck it then, I’m getting fired.’ I lost that job to stay home and listen to Nas,” Brown revealed. “It was the best decision I made in my life. That day, just sitting at the house listening to that album, made me say, Fuck everything—I’m going full-fledged with this rap thing.”
Brown knew that he wanted nothing more in life than to rap for a living from that day on. It took him almost 15-years to turn his ambition into his full-time profession, but he stayed true to his word.