The Ventura Theater has offered a pretty solid hip-hop lineup this year: Redman and Method Man shared the marquee with Juicy J in June; Fabolous and Pusher T in May; and last week Ab-Sol and Joey Bada$$ played there for the Smokers Club Tour. Of all the godfathers or tastemakers to enter the theater’s stage this year, however, A-Trak and Danny Brown’s show on Saturday is poised to be the game changer.
The show is part of a tour called Double Trouble and will largely represent the Fool’s Gold label. A-Trak’s the owner of the hip-hop meets dance-heavy label, and Brown has been on its roster for three years. Both artists are at the top of their careers; A-Trak has grown into a highly regarded DJ and spent the last year touring the world, while Brown recently wrapped his sold-out tour with Action Bronson and Thrash Talk. Last month, further solidifying Fool’s Gold’s success, Brown released his highly anticipated album, Old, to critical praise.
Brown is known for having a fan base in and outside the world of hip-hop. The self-proclaimed indie-rapper has frequently stated that he lacks the motive to make money from his craft, even telling Rolling Stone magazine that he would prefer to draw an income doing voiceovers (he worked on Grand Theft Auto V as a voice for a lifeguard) than on album sales. He often says he’s Internet-famous but still just “Daniel from Linwood” back in Detroit. That might change after Old, especially since the album has placed him in the same conversation as heavy-hitters Kendrick Lamar, Kanye and Jay-Z. Regardless of his status in the hip-hop hierarchy, he’s likely to hold on to his dirty Twitter feeds (RTing some of his filthiest Twitter comments from fans) and pricey Balmain skinny jeans.
The first half of Old is retrospective, depicting a childhood stunted by drugs and desperation. But the second half focuses on Brown’s weird drug-fueled antics. His niche of lowdown beats with traditionally crafted lyrics has grown a new branch on the hip-hop tree and it will take time to see how it holds up. The album as a whole is worth a listen with headphones, notably songs like “Torture” and “Lonely,” but Saturday will offer the club bangers; “Dip” and “Dope Song” are sure to get the ladies to the front of the stage. It’s fair to say everyone will want to see Brown’s toothless mouth laugh into the mic but leave the mosh pits to songs such as “Trash Talk.”
A-Trak, born Alain Macklovitch, has watched Brown’s career flourish since he signed the rapper in 2011, and both have benefited in many ways. Although his career began at the ripe age of 15, his popularity has skyrocketed in the last few years. He tours relentlessly and spent the majority of 2013 hosting Fool’s Gold’s insane dance and live-show parties, including Fool’s Gold’s Day Off. As with many DJs in his field, A-Trak is often on the Las Vegas circuit (he called the city “a breeding ground for electronic music” in Fader earlier this summer) or playing festivals in Europe. Beyond selling out 3,000-seat venues, A-Trak continues to perfect his craft, and will release the debut album for his side project Duck Sauce next month.
A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold, along with co-founder DJ Nick Catchdubs, has carved its name into the electronic and hip-hop music scene. Obsessed with new music, the two have found some of the best electronic artists (Flosstradamus, Kid Cudi, Chromeo) since they started the label back in 2007. The critical success of Brown’s Old and the overwhelming popularity of DJ A-Trak’s live sets will create hype for the label not seen since Chromeo dropped Business Casual. In the world of electronic and hip-hop, where overindulgence and materialism often reign, A-Trak and Danny Brown are the genre’s counterpart. Saturday’s show will touch on all of these points but mostly it will be a pretty good party.
The Double Trouble Tour, Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Ventura Theater, 26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura. 653-0118.