Danny Brown — Cat Daddy
By Dom Sinacola· Oct 15, 2013
It doesn’t take long to watch “Danny Brown — Cat Daddy”—and it shouldn’t, even if one were to count repeat viewings, if one were so inclined to watch this more than once—yet during it the mind wanders. And not only because the video, which at under three minutes is almost wholly composed of interstitial material (of Brown’s own “Handstand” forcing energy into “remixed” kittens and puppies who seem to want nothing more than to be left the fuck alone to sleep and lick the cold steel bars of the cages they inhabit, even if a puppy licking the hinges of its cage bears weird symbolic resonance to the way in which Brown interacts with his own metaphorical prisons: Detroit, drug addiction, poverty, etc.), actively justifies its existence by just continuing to exist. No, the mind mostly interacts with this video in a rhetorical way, allowing the mundanity of what’s being filmed to limn the edges of some very real—and some very, I say this seriously, dire—thought: if I willingly watch Danny Brown shop for cat toys, what else will I watch him do? What else will I watch? This is a question I think I should be ready to answer. This is a question I think we’re all answering right now, right this very second, together.
As I’ve hinted at before, Danny Brown is a Detroit rapper whose flamboyant style would generally be considered the opposite of “thug,” yet it’s hard to put much worth in that word anymore when what is or isn’t “thug” is conjoined with money and notoriety, two concepts in an almost troubling stalemate, wherein a deep admiration for high-end fashion designers (be it for aesthetic qualities or solely for the degree of status they assign, or both; think, for example, A$AP Rocky’s “Fashion Killa”) is partnered with no measure of self-awareness to a still-bristling homophobia and misogyny that unfortunately characterize the very “thug”-ness that is so much of rap music’s bread and butter. In other words: the artists who see nothing wrong in attaching “no homo” to a couplet are wearing the latest fashions from gay designers in such a manner as to reference prison culture from the early ’90s, which itself is pretty obviously homoerotically charged.
My point is that Danny Brown—whether he likes it or not—operates within a series of false dichotomies in rap music, all of which essentially represent the same divide: gay vs. straight; hard vs. soft; street vs…front lawn. There’s that rumor that Danny Brown was once asked to be a part of G Unit, but that once 50 Cent realized what kind of person he was inviting, quickly rescinded, common sense dictating that Brown’s hair and skinny jeans and reverence for Arthur Lee put off 50’s unrepentant sense of masculinity and hardness. That today 50 would most likely buy a bedazzled bulletproof vest if it cost enough emphasizes the flimsiness of whatever logic he mythically used, but it doesn’t much matter. Danny Brown isn’t soft or…front lawn, he’s just not what we should expect from a guy who was once asked to be in G Unit.
Last week Fader TV followed Danny Brown as he visited American Kennels in New York to buy some stuff for his cat, a Bengal named Siren. “Danny Brown — Cat Daddy” assumes Brown doesn’t have much going on, like he’s just got some time to kill, so even if going to a pet store to buy cat toys is as boring to watch as it sounds (it is), Brown is pretty amenable to the idea, especially if Fader’s paying the tab on all the shit he picks out. Still, one imagines Brown pretty amenable to any idea, and his demeanor makes for a refreshingly pleasant trip to the pet store, because also weed is awesome.
Danny Brown does three things throughout “Cat Daddy.” He does them in such a way that when you see him do them you immediately want to do them yourself. And only later do you realize that two out of the three things you basically already do on the regs, just with phenomenally less panache.
1. He shows us a video on his phone of his Bengal, Siren, and she’s climbing a tree. She’s a gorgeous cat, really, and, like most Bengals we imagine if any of us actually had them, large but effortlessly sleek. He holds the phone steadily for the camera, and only in retrospect do you consider just how steady his hand was. Which is when you think: “How does a guy like that have steady hands?” You are immediately jealous of this man’s motor skills.
2. He calls all of the store’s merchandise “shit,” and he regards each item as callously. He knows this is just shit he doesn’t have to pay for that his majestic cat will rip to pieces anyway. He’s not a dick about it or anything, he just calls it all shit.
“What’s the shit you can spray on shit and then she don’t fuck with the shit?”
“Skeddaddles! I know that for sure she’ll like this shit.”
“Weasel Ball? Yeah…yeah…she’ll for sure like this shit. This shit is tight too.”
When he’s not calling a product shit, he’s befuddled by it.
“But then you gotta tape your couch up though? That’s not sexy. That’s not sexy.”
There is no better response for anything, ever.
3. He reps his new album Old, and rightfully so, because it’s just as awesome as weed.
Brown pretty much goes with the flow, and for that he makes out like a bandit: free publicity, free cat shit. But wouldn’t it have been a lot more fun to watch 50 Cent shop for cat toys? To watch his entourage busy themselves while 50 picks through a rack of Skedaddles? Is this why Aziz Ansari’s stand-up works when he’s really just describing how celebrities are terrible at doing normal things? As commenter ruffunitlm ponders:
“Did I really watch Danny Brown shop for cat toys? And why did I enjoy it?”
Fuck, I mean, did you really enjoy it? I didn’t, not really, not in the way I would have enjoyed it were Danny Brown terrible at being normal, were he intimidated by any situation which could remotely dilute his masculinity or celebrity, like showing people pictures of his cat on his phone or expressing concern for his cat’s breath, especially when she’s giving him kisses. And then Brown says how excited Siren will be for the toys. Like she’s people! Even the guy who works at the pet store is embarrassed getting caught during an intimate moment with a puppy.
And that guy fucking works there.
Whether Fader was just taking what they could get, or they were making a concerted effort to celebrate the mundane, it’s snippets like these that endear us to artists—or people—in the most lovably boring way possible. At this point, we’ll watch Danny Brown make a hardy stew, or clip his toenails, or vacuum his living room, all things that we know would much more hilariously be accomplished by a member of G Unit. Also consider how “Cat Daddy” came out on the same day as Detroit idol Eminem’s new “Rap God,” which, spoiler alert, is bitter, ugly, sad, and like three minutes longer than “Cat Daddy.” Better to excel at the mundane than miserably fail at being a god. It makes even cat shit smell like roses. Like big beautiful lady-colored flowers.