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Danny! Holding Hat, 2015.JPG
Promotional photo, 2015
Background information
Birth name Daniel Keith Swain
Also known as D. Swain, D. Swizzy, Swain
Born (1983-08-18) August 18, 1983 (age 32)
Killeen, Texas
Origin Columbia, South Carolina, United States
Genres Hip hop, electronica
Occupation(s) Rapper
Record producer
Years active 2004 - present
Labels Definitive Jux
(2007 - 2009)
(2010 - 2012)
(2012 - present)
MTV/Hype Music
(2012 - present)
Associated acts Questlove, Jay-Z, Drake, Busta Rhymes, Kid Cudi, Pharrell, Childish Gambino, Timbaland
Website DannySwain.com

Danny Swain, better known by his mononymous stage name Danny! (/ˈdæniˈ/ dan-EE), is an American recording artist and record producer from Columbia, South Carolina.[1]

Danny! is a former student of the Savannah College of Art & Design;[2][3] he often wears an oxford shirt and pinstriped necktie, and has gained notoriety for prank-calling celebrities.[4] In 2012 Danny! rose to prominence shortly following the proclamation by The Roots drummer Questlove that there was strong interest from Jay-Z;[1][5][6][7][8] he was subsequently signed as the flagship artist to Questlove's re-launched Okayplayer Records after years of being loosely affiliated with the company.[9] In support of the new venture Danny! made his television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in September 2012,[10] 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[9]—from producing beats 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,[1][11] 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,[1][9] cited by Allmusic[12] 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";[13] GQ would later reiterate the same[14][15] regarding Danny!'s music production.

Early life[edit]

Danny!, the only son of military parents,[16] 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.[1] Shortly after selling his first beat at age 17, Danny! began to take producing music more seriously. He started penning his own lyrics and eventually recorded makeshift songs primarily as a showcase for his production.[17] Early Danny! songs mimicked rapper Eminem's multi-syllabic shock lyrics;[16] Danny! has openly admitted to copying Eminem's flow early on.



Danny! performs with The Roots, September 2012.

After spending nearly a year networking with local rappers Danny! released his debut album, now renamed The College Kicked-Out,[1][5] 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;[1] 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.[18] 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,[5][18] 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.

It's all people telling you to do this and that…[but] when you do what they say and it still doesn't work in your favor, it's like, 'well, I was fine the way I was'. You just got to keep moving. There's no guarantee for anything.

- Danny!, on instinct and perseverance
(GQ, 2014)[15]


Danny! finally got his first big break in January 2007 when he received a recording contract with Definitive Jux Records by proxy.[3][19] 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. Though Def Jux's involvement would not amount to a released album—only the single "Just Friends",[20] which managed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100[21]—the deal did establish an ongoing relationship between Danny! and MTV, who would begin using his music extensively in various programming for years to come.

Danny! would continue to gain acclaim on his own merits, appearing on URB Magazine's website as part of their "Next 1000" campaign,[22] as well as features from Pitchfork,[23] Okayplayer,[24] Allmusic,[25] Complex Magazine,[5] VIBE, Rolling Stone,[26] Scratch Magazine, Creative Loafing,[27] IGN,[28] The Source,[29] XXL Magazine,[30] BBC News,[31] Northern Express Weekly,[32] Popmatters, The Fader,[33] Blender, mtvU, Billboard,[34] SPIN,[35] L.A. Weekly[36] 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[29] despite a growing presence in the mainstream.


Rapper Common greets Danny!, Philadelphia, 2012.

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,[37] would quietly release a revamped version of the album near the middle of the following year to widespread acclaim.[5][38]

While Where Is Danny? was considered a courageous and critically acclaimed effort, the album was nonetheless largely ignored by mainstream media, due mostly to Danny!'s perpetual lack of a proper record deal and publicity team at the time, but also likely to the abrupt shift in musical direction for Danny!. By the time Where Is Danny? was finally given a major label release on Interscope the momentum for the now two-year-old album had dissipated. The perceived apathy to a record he considered his "fully realized masterpiece" was Danny!'s tipping point with the industry; it was during this time he began excessively prank-calling fellow celebrities and going through a self-proclaimed "social media meltdown", alienating acts such as Childish Gambino and Busta Rhymes[39] while conceiving "Project Lucky Seven", later known as Payback. Nonetheless, Danny! later offered the album as a free download on his Tumblr blog[40] after it was revealed to the public by Questlove that Jay-Z had a strong interest in him,[5] dubbing Danny! "Hov's fav[orite] cat".[1][30][41]

During this period Danny! also provided production for Danny Brown (whose own ascension in 2011 would later cause people to confuse the two), Wale and Cody ChesnuTT.

Payback was completed toward the end of 2011[5] 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.[9] 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 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,[42] and silently transitioned into a more prominent producer role throughout the course of the following year. However, GQ Magazine revealed in early 2014 that Danny! was indeed working on a new studio album,[15] initially titled "Deliverance" but later changed to The Book Of Daniel after the book in the Bible.


Main article: Danny! discography

Studio albums[edit]

Album Year
The College Kicked-Out 2004
F.O.O.D. 2005
Charm 2006
Danny Is Dead 2007
And I Love H.E.R.: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2008
Where Is Danny? 2011
Payback 2012
The Book Of Daniel 2016

Instrumental albums[edit]

Album Year
Dream, Interrupted 2006
Dream, Fulfilled 2007
Dream, Extinguished 2008


Album Year
21st Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Danny! 2007
Behind The Beats, Vol. 1 2007
Behind The Beats, Vol. 2 2007


Album Year
"Just Friends" 2009
"Evil" 2012

Production credits[edit]

Artist Song(s) Album Year
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
Cody ChesnuTT "Scroll Call (Danny Swain's Okayplayer Remix)" Landing On A Hundred: B-Sides & Remixes 2014

Film & television[edit]

Song(s) Where Featured Network Year
"Intermission (interlude)" Jersey Shore After Hours MTV 2008
"Cafe Surreal" aMTV promotional bumper MTV 2009
"Ebony Flower" Wainy Days My Damn Channel 2009
"Check It Out" Disaster Date MTV 2011
"The Groove" Dina's Party HGTV 2011
"The Groove" Love Lust SundanceTV 2011
"The Groove" 2011 Comedy Awards Comedy Central 2011
"Cafe Surreal", "The Groove" Red Bull Signature Series: Supernatural]] NBC 2012
"Cafe Surreal" The Association ESPN 2012
"Crasy Sound" Elbow Room HGTV 2012
"Evil" live performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon with The Roots NBC 2012
"God Bless The Child" Breaking Amish TLC 2012
"Loser" Breaking Amish: Extended Episodes TLC 2012
"Misery" Rockstar Presents: XDurance Series (with Rob Adelberg) YouTube 2012
"Pineapple Gumdrop" LXTV 1st Look NBC 2012
"Still Standing" Life After: Karyn White TV One 2012
"Where Is Danny", "I Ain't The Walrus" Sonos television advert featuring Questlove cable 2012
"Cafe Surreal" Crown Royal: Best Of promotional clip during 2013 NBA Playoffs TNT 2013
"Malice In Blunderland" The Challenge: Rivals II MTV 2013
"Man On The Moon" Snooki & Jwoww MTV 2013
"One Day It'll All Make Cents" The Show with Vinny MTV 2013
"Torture" World of Jenks MTV 2013
"Gibraltar (Danny!'s Pride And Vanity Remix)" Just Blaze interview[43] Okayplayer 2014
"Check It Out" Nordstrom anniversary sale summer promo[44] cable and radio 2014
"Take Me To The Muddy Grass" Bob's Burgers FOX 2014

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Jeffries, David (2013-03-11). "Danny!: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  2. ^ "Dean's List: Hosted by Danny!". mtvU. 2007-04-08. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  3. ^ a b Stoehr, John (2007-01-28). "Local Student Wins MTV Award". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  4. ^ Swain, Daniel (2011-11-26). "Danny!: Prank Call Archive". Tumblr. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Martin, Andrew (2012-06-07). "Interview: Danny Swain, Jay-Z’s New Favorite Rapper, Speaks On "Payback"". Complex. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  6. ^ Houghton, Edwin (2012-04-26). "Questlove Speaks On Jay-Z & Danny!". Okayplayer. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  7. ^ Obie, Brooke (2012-12-18). "Introducing...Danny!". EBONY. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  8. ^ Martin, Andrew (2012-01-23). "Jay-Z's New Favorite Rapper Is Danny!?". Prefix Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  9. ^ a b c d Ramirez, Erika (2011-01-13). "Exclusive: ?uestlove Announces Okayplayer Records Re-Launch, New Albums By Danny!, Young Guru". Billboard. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  10. ^ Blotnick, Emmy (2012-09-21). "Danny! Performs "Evil"". NBC. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  11. ^ Raible, Allan (2009-01-02). "The 50 Best Albums of 2008: Nos. 25 to 1". ABC News. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  12. ^ Staff, AMG (2012-12-20). "AllMusic’s Favorite Hip-Hop/Rap Albums of 2012". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-12-22. 
  13. ^ Carter, Kelley (2013-01-02). "Leaders Of The New School". EBONY. Retrieved 2013-03-01. 
  14. ^ Fashion, GQ (2013-12-20). "Get familiar with our man Danny! now. In 2014 he'll be contending for producer of the year.". Instagram. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  15. ^ a b c Phili, Stelios (2014-03-05). "The GQ+A". GQ. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  16. ^ a b Jackson, Deborah (2009-03-11). "Military People: Danny Swain". Military Hub. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  17. ^ Anto, Julio (2012-12-04). "Danny! Discusses New Album 'Payback', Co-signs From Jay-Z And Questlove, And The Evolution Of DIY In Hip-Hop". Prefix Magazine. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  18. ^ a b Brown, Amena (2008-03-20). "Bigger Than Buzz: Creating Your Own Mania". Performer Magazine. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  19. ^ Papale, Zachary (2007-01-27). "The Next Jukie Is...Danny!". mtvU's Best Music On Campus. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  20. ^ "Danny!: Just Friends 12". Definitive Jux. 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  21. ^ Howard, Jacinta (2009-04-28). "Don't Sleep On Danny!". Creative Loafing. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  22. ^ Ciotti, Corey (2007-07-12). "Next 1000: Danny Swain". URB Magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  23. ^ Patrin, Nate (2007-08-02). "Danny! News". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  24. ^ Suss, Ginny (2007-07-17). "Danny!: News Archive". Okayplayer. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  25. ^ Jeffries, David (2007-02-27). "Allmusic Spotlight Archive: Danny!". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-14. [dead link]
  26. ^ Dolan, Jon (2012-11-28). "Payback: Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
  27. ^ Howard, Jacinta (2009-04-27). "Don't Sleep On Danny!". Creative Loafing.com. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  28. ^ Leonard, Alfred H. (2008-10-27). "Five Underground Producers You Need To Know". IGN.com. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  29. ^ a b Lynch, Sean (2012-09-29). "Danny! Talks 'Payback', Okayplayer Records & More". The Source. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  30. ^ a b Martinez-Belkin, Neil (2012-03-29). "Act Like U Know: Danny!". XXL. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  31. ^ "Danny!: Biography". BBC News. 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  32. ^ Kates, Kristi (2008-09-17). "Danny!: And I Love H.E.R. (4Play)". Northern Express Weekly. Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  33. ^ Hockley-Smith, Sam (2014-01-08). "Danny! - Archive". The Fader. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  34. ^ Purdom, Clayton (2008-06-27). "And I Love H.E.R.: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album Review". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  35. ^ Reeves, Mosi (2012-01-31). "Payback Album Review". SPIN. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  36. ^ Weiss, Jeff (2008-12-17). "The 25 Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2008". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  37. ^ Loss-Eaton, Nicholas (2010-11-12). "Discovering New Music Artists in the Digital Age: Interscope Digital Distribution Reaches Beyond DIY". PR Newswire. Retrieved 2012-02-07. 
  38. ^ "Danny! - 'Where Is Danny'". iTunes. 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  39. ^ Swain, Daniel (2011-11-26). "Danny!: Prank Call Archive". Tumblr. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  40. ^ Swain, Daniel (2012-03-11). "Danny!: Where Is Danny?". Tumblr. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  41. ^ Thompson, Ahmir (2012-01-22). "Jump Early". Twitter. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  42. ^ Jones, Jeffrey (2013-04-10). "Hype Music: Roster". MTV. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  43. ^ "Just Blaze Interview With Okayplayer TV". Okayplayer. 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  44. ^ "Nordstrom advert". Instagram. 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2014-07-26. 

External links[edit]