“It’s the downward spiral, got me suicidal/ But too scared to do it so these pills will be the rifle.” That’s how Detroit rap phenom Danny Brown kicked off the second verse of the title track to his breakout 2011 miXtape XXX, and his astounding new album and Warp debut Atrocity EXhibition picks up right where that record left off.

A thematic sequel to XXX’s hairline-trigger hedonism and despair, Atrocity EXhibition finds Brown ruminating on life after greater success—how things changed, how they haven’t, and how the potential of the future is often irreconcilable with the realities of the present. “I couldn’t tell the story of what happened after XXX because I was living,” Brown eXplains. “I had to live life to write about it.”

Brown began work on Atrocity EXhibition in the summer of 2014, linking up with producer and frequent collaborator Paul White on the bulk of the album’s cuts. “Me and him are the same way,” Brown enthuses on the pair’s partnership. “He’s out there, and I’m out there too. We just want to make music...You never heard nobody rapping over this type of production before. This is not regular rap.”

And the intricate wordplay, unmatched storytelling, and lyrical thoughtfulness of Atrocity EXhibition further cements Danny Brown as not only one of rap’s brightest lights, but one of the most consistently inventive artists working in popular music right now. The record represents an unbelievable artistic peak, as well as a crystallization of an aesthetic that doubles as a definitive realization of self. “I feel like this is the first Danny Brown album,” he ruminates on the record’s accomplishments. “Before, I felt like I was trying to fit in—but for the first time, I feel like I’m making music for me. I know Danny Brown’s sound, and I’m just doing what Danny Brown knows how to do.”