Friday, December 13, 2013

Childish Gambino-because the internet. Review

     The first time I saw Donald Glover was in 2006 as part of the comedy group Derrick Comedy from Collegehumor. I would watch their videos religiously and loved every one of them. Needless to say, when I saw that Glover was on a new show called Community on NBC, I knew I had to watch it. In 2011, my friend played "Heartbeat" and "Bonfire" in the car and told me they were by some guy named Childish Gambino. As soon as I got home, I looked up some of the songs on Youtube and saw that it was none other than Donald Glover. Immediately, I downloaded his debut album Camp. I liked the album, but I never listened to it seriously. It was impossible to take a guy seriously only 5 years after he was raping bros. Also, I couldn't really tell how serious Glover wanted to be with his music, songs like "Bonfire" had hilarious wordplay but also proved he could actually spit. Irregardless, I would always refer to him as Donald Glover and think of him as an actor. It probably wasn't until I he released "Centipede" and announced he was leaving Community, starting a music-based TV Show on FX called Atlanta, and releasing another album. After all that, I started looking back at Gambino interviews and freestyles and began to see him as Childish Gambino, not Donald Glover. Every time he released a new song I realized this wasn't a joke to him, he was a rapper who wanted to be taken seriously and leave the "Bro Rape" chapter of his life behind him. With because the internet, not only can Childish Gambino be taken seriously, he can be considered one of the best rappers musicians in the game at the moment. 
     The album art on iTunes is just a picture of Gambino staring at the camera solemnly, but the real cover is a .gif. It's perfect for this album, it shows "The Boy" (more on that later) starting at the camera, no smile. Solemn and dark, with a trippy vibe. The album opens with the eerie "Library", a five second intro that leads you into the hair-raising "Crawl." In this track, Gambino shows off his impressive rap skills and shows newcomers that he's not the same person he was on Camp. The hook is catchy as well and the production is unique and works great with the aggressive tone of the lyrics. Songs like "Worldstar" go along with the theme of the internet and his obsession of becoming a world star, or getting on "The Worst Guys" definitely disappointed me at first because the feature from Chance The Rapper wasn't even a verse, but the Gambino's wordplay and flow is good enough to make this a solid track. However, some of the best tracks on the album have no rap at all. Songs like "Flight of The Navigator" only have 'Bino singing, and it's incredible. Specifically with that track, the combination of the guitar lick and his vocals make it a beautiful piece of the album. The production on because the internet. needs to be mentioned, too. The range in beats is just as dynamic as Childish Gambino himself, going from the hard, almost dubstep, like beat on "No Exit", to the upbeat sounds of "Pink Toes", to the dancy production of "Earth: The Oldest Computer." 
     One thing you may have noticed about the album was the roman numerals next to the songs. Well, back in August Gambino released a short film called "Clapping for the Wrong Reasons." It was pretty mysterious and followed Gambino and some of his friends (Chance, Trinidad James, Flying Lotus) in a huge mansion. The interesting part about this video was that he released it under his Childish Gambino pseudonym, previously only used for his music. But this video didn't seem to have any link to an album or separate project. As it turns out, "Clapping for the Wrong Reasons" was a prequel to because the internet., and not just the album. There's a screenplay that goes along with this album. It's an incredibly well done project that goes along with the album, and I recommend reading the entire thing. It's obvious he put so much thought and effort into combining the mood and story of the play through his music.
     The reason I love this album is because it's so obvious it's not just another album. It's a project that changes everyone's view of who Donald Glover really is, a truly gifted artist. He's skilled in so many different ways and it shows in this project. It's hard to believe this is the same guy who released Camp two years ago.

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