Still image from the "Speed" music video as performed by Danny!, April 2013
|Birth name||Daniel Keith Swain|
|Also known as||D. Swain, D. Sweezy, Mr. Swain|
August 18, 1983 |
|Origin||Columbia, South Carolina, United States|
|Genres||Alternative hip hop
|Years active||2004 - present|
(2007 - 2009)
(2010 - 2012)
(2012 - present)
(2012 - present)
|Associated acts||Drake, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, Tanya Morgan, Pharrell Williams, The Roots|
Danny! is a former student of the Savannah College of Art & Design; he often wears an oxford shirt and pinstriped necktie, and has gained notoriety for prank-calling celebrities. In 2012 Danny! rose to prominence shortly following the proclamation by The Roots drummer Questlove that there was strong interest from Jay-Z; he was subsequently signed as the flagship artist to Questlove's re-launched Okayplayer Records after years of being loosely affiliated with the company. In support of the new venture Danny! made his television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in September 2012, premiering his song "Evil" alongside The Roots.
Prior to this Danny! was most notable for his efficacious DIY approach to his music career, handling virtually every aspect all by himself—from music production to web design and even promotion—without the aid of a management team to varying degrees of acclaim. He would field praise for his self-released concept records Charm and And I Love H.E.R., the latter named by ABC News as one of the best 50 albums of 2008, before releasing the "anti-album" Where Is Danny? in early 2011. After signing to Okayplayer Records the following year Danny! completed his trilogy of conceptual albums with Payback, cited by Allmusic as one of the best hip-hop releases of 2012. In 2013 EBONY listed Danny! among other rising artists in their "Leaders of the New School" piece, predicting that Danny! would have a "breakout year".
Danny!, the only son of military parents, moved to Columbia, South Carolina in the late 1990s. He attended Richland Northeast High School and began pursuing music as a hobby during his sophomore year. Shortly after selling his first beat at age 17, Danny! began to take producing music more seriously. He started penning his own lyrics—after initially being reluctant to rap—and eventually recorded makeshift songs primarily as a showcase for his production. Early Danny! songs mimicked rapper Eminem's multi-syllabic shock lyrics; Danny! has openly admitted to copying Eminem's flow early on.
After spending nearly a year networking with local rappers Danny! released his debut album, now renamed The College Kicked-Out (formerly known as The Danny Swain LP), in late 2004. The record received mixed to unfavorable reviews, which Danny! would allude to in much of his later work.
In early 2005, Danny! was accepted to the Savannah College of Art & Design and relocated to Savannah, Georgia accordingly; it was here that he began to work on his second project, F.O.O.D. Highly bothered by the reception to The College Kicked-Out, he spent much of F.O.O.D. verbally—and vulgarly—attacking his detractors.
In March 2006 Danny! officially released his third record Charm, the first of three planned concept albums (succeeded by And I Love H.E.R. and Payback, respectively). The album was notable for featuring an underlying theme of escapism, narrating the story of a musician who wants to achieve success through music and be reprieved of the day-to-day routine in his hometown; Danny! has often credited the song "Poor Charlotte" from The Miracles' City of Angels record as his inspiration for Charm's storyline. Lauded by a variety of music critics, Charm went on to become Danny!'s biggest success at the time and, coincidentally, help make the entire premise of the album come true in real life.
Charm and selected tracks from the album made their way onto the shortlist for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, making Danny! the first hip-hop artist from South Carolina to achieve such a feat. During this time Danny! quietly compiled an instrumental album, Dream, Interrupted, and made it available abroad; within two years the sequels Dream, Fulfilled and Dream, Extinguished would also be released.
Danny! finally got his big break in January 2007 when he received a recording contract with Definitive Jux Records by proxy. The record deal allowed Danny! to record an album for the Def Jux label and release a 12" single to be accompanied by a music video slated for an exclusive premiere on mtvU. The deal also established an ongoing relationship between Danny! and MTV, who would begin using his music extensively in various programming for years to come.
The project would be delayed for several years before a single, titled "Just Friends", was finally released by Definitive Jux in early 2009, making it the sole Def Jux release from Danny!. Despite a glaring absence of promotion from the label the single managed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. In the years preceding "Just Friends"'s release, Danny! significantly increased his musical output and self-released a staggering six records in a year-and-a-half span, of which only two were actual studio albums (Danny Is Dead and And I Love H.E.R.).
Danny! would continue to gain acclaim on his own merits, appearing on URB Magazine's website as part of their "Next 1000" campaign, as well as features from Pitchfork, Okayplayer, Allmusic, Complex Magazine, VIBE, Rolling Stone, Scratch Magazine, Creative Loafing, IGN, The Source, XXL Magazine, BBC News, Northern Express Weekly, Popmatters, The Fader, Blender, mtvU, Billboard, SPIN, L.A. Weekly and the Village Voice. The self-promotional "do it yourself" approach has since been adopted early on by other emerging acts such as Odd Future, Lil B and Charles Hamilton albeit slightly more successfully. Danny! has asserted numerous times that he implements such tactics by necessity, not by choice, as he has never been successful at procuring artist representation despite a growing presence in the mainstream.
The outspoken producer/rapper completed the Madvillainy-inspired Where Is Danny? in early 2010. Interscope Records, through their short-lived digital distribution program with Tunecore, would quietly release a revamped version of the album near the middle of the following year to widespread acclaim. Danny! later offered the album as a free download on his Tumblr blog after it was revealed to the public by Questlove that Jay-Z had a strong interest in him, dubbing Danny! "Hov's fav[orite] cat". During this period Danny! also provided production for rappers Danny Brown (whose own ascension in 2011 would later cause people to confuse the two), Wale and Lil B, and was commissioned by Universal Music Classics and Jazz to produce a remix for Till Brönner's cover of Freddie Hubbard's "Gibraltar".
Payback was completed toward the end of 2011 but was continuously delayed throughout much of the following year due to the lack of substantial fanfare. After months of strategic postponements, Payback finally gained the exposure that had eluded it after Okayplayer announced that they had officially relaunched their record label division and signed Danny! as their first artist with plans of releasing the project. The interest would reach its peak when Danny! made his national television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on the week prior to Payback's scheduled release date, premiering his song "Evil" with The Roots. On September 25th Payback was made available in many prominent digital outlets, peaking at # 9 on the iTunes hip-hop charts.
The title track for Where Is Danny? was featured in a commercial for SONOS starring Questlove in late 2012. Long fascinated with music licensing Danny! subsequently signed on as a composer for Hype Music, a production music library run by MTV and Sony/ATV's Extreme Music, the following year.
|The College Kicked-Out||2004|
|Danny Is Dead||2007|
|And I Love H.E.R.: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack||2008|
|Where Is Danny?||2011|
|21st Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Danny!||2007|
|Behind The Beats, Vol. 1||2007|
|Behind The Beats, Vol. 2||2007|
|Danny Brown||"Exotic", "The Nana Song"||The Hybrid||2010|
|Danny Brown||"Counterfeit", "Hey!"*||Detroit State of Mind 4||2010|
|Lil B||"The Game On Lock", "Illusions of G"||Illusions of Grandeur 2||2012|
|Wale||"Never Never Freestyle"||Folarin||2012|
|French Montana||"When I Want", "Gifted (feat. The Weeknd)"||Excuse My French||2013|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Danny!.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Danny!|
- Official website
- Cafe Surreal² (official blog)
- Gone Danny Gone (official Tumblr blog)
- Wanderland (official message boards)
- Danny! on Myspace
- Danny! on Twitter
- Danny! at AllMusic
- Danny! on ARTISTdirect
- Danny! on MTV
- Danny! on VH1