Friday 20 December 2013

Review of "Because the Internet" by Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino is the hip hop stage name used by American actor, writer and comedian, Donald Glover. Not to be confused with Lethal Weapon actor, Danny Glover.

“Rap music? I’m too old for that shit.”
There seems to some confusion over whether Childish Gambino is a character devised by Glover or just a guise to conceal the celebrity’s true self. I will admit, it’s hard to connect with Gambino’s lyrics when you’re not sure how “real” he is. This is how I see it: Actor, Donald Glover (not to be confused with Danny Glover), has become a rapper taking on the stage name Childish Gambino, in which he plays the persona of a rich kid who is in turn pretending to be a kid from the ghetto. Have I got that right? Probably not.

Let’s put all identity issues aside and focus on the music, because the music’s the important part. This second album sees Glover getting a little less self-deprecating, overall creating a more fun listening experience. The lyrical theme throughout the record seems to be “the internet”, as the title “because the internet” suggests, with Glover filling each track with plenty of witty computer-related references and wordplay. Glover’s humorous and intelligent ability to play with language is just one of multiple talents. He raps like a true pro and even has a pretty sweet singing voice, altogether not too dissimilar in tone to that of Frank Ocean.

The smorgasbord of different flavoured beats is without a doubt one of the album’s greatest highlights. From the jazzy guitar arpeggios on “Shadows” to the bouncy synth chords on”3005” to the loopy, murky bassline on “No Exit”, the album stays captivating. It can get almost irritating how often Glover interrupts the flow of his verses and instrumentals in order to chuck in a quick quip, a obscure sound or a choppy cut. At the same time the jerky edits do add a certain aesthetic style to the album. Gambino needs his own style, as at times the album can feel all a bit messy, as if Glover is trying to throw too many ideas into the mix and they won’t all fit without spilling over the sides.