The snaggle-toothed Detroit rapper has previously dabbled in grime, ghettotech and other esoteric styles, but his new LP goes further still – sketching out uncharted territory for hip-hop with the gonzo penmanship of Robert Crumb or Ralph Steadman. Really Doe and Pneumonia show he can do hook-filled hits, and Lost is a Madlibian bit of butterfly-chasing, but there’s stuff here that no other MC is attempting: on Paul White productions like Ain’t It Funny and Dance in the Water, the vibe is like Captain Beefheart manically attacking a to-do list. Brown is fixated as ever on drugs and sex, keeping bulging cartoonish imagery in pithy equilibrium – “So much coke / Take a sniff need a ski lift”; “licked the clit and she did the Macarena” – and his voice, agitatedly squawking and yet dainty as a ballerina, is one of contemporary music’s greatest pleasures. He quotes Outkast’s BOB on Today, and is the true successor to their trailblazing spirit.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas is music editor of the Guardian