When he was last here for the 2014 Laneway festival, Danny Brown says he was in party mode.

"I usually just get drunk and run up there there and jump around," the Michigan rapper says, cackling down the phone from his home in Michigan.

That laid-back attitude to his live shows resulted in the festival's most electrifying performance, as Brown's wild hair, gap-toothed smile and collection of chipmunk raps and forward-facing sonics worked the late afternoon crowd into a frenzy.

Two years on, the 35-year-old is warming up for the release of his fourth album with a quickfire New Zealand show at the Powerstation tonight - but even he doesn't know how it will go.


"Now I'm a more sober, more focused Danny Brown I don't know, we'll have to see," he says.

Brown admits "a lot of things have changed" since he was last here, when he was ironically touring his third album, Old.

"Now I'm getting older, I'm taking more care of myself. I have to work out, I have to eat better, I have to do a lot of things I didn't do," he says.

"I just can't sit around and smoke weed and drink all day anymore and think I can get up there and perform for an hour and a half.

"I've been working on getting physically good so I can be mentally good."

He's had plenty of time to prepare. Old, released in 2013, was Brown's breakthrough, cementing him as a hip-hop rock star capable of incendiary rhymes and frenetic live performances.

When he has a microphone in his hand, it feels like anything can happen. Lately, though, he's shown off another side. His daughter has moved in with him and has just started high school, and he's also working on a collection of Dr Seuss-inspired children's books.

Fans are clamouring for his fourth album and Brown readily admits it's taken too long. The problem? He's a perfectionist.

He created four different albums and more than 50 songs until it felt finished.

"I just never felt like it was what I wanted to present to the world. And I just kept adding till I got it. It took time. It took patience," he says. "I got to the point where I had too many songs, it wasn't getting any better, no more doors were opening.

"I figured out I was trying too hard, doing too much. I cut out the fat, and I was really happy with what I had. I was overthinking it and it took time to realise that." Though a release date hasn't yet been confirmed, Brown admits he's itching to return to New Zealand and "get away from Michigan's cold weather".

"I'm stuck in the house pretty much. I can't wait to get outside. I need some sun, man."

Who: Danny Brown
Where and when: The Powerstation, April 21