Childish Gambino :: Because the Internet
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Donald Glover owns an enviable position in two different worlds -
successful as an actor/comedian on shows like NBC's "Community,"
and successful as Childish Gambino in the music world. Owing to his success as an
actor, many people were skeptical as to whether or not he was
serious about hip-hop. Glover's response was to refine his craft
over a series of free mixtapes,
showing gradual improvement from one to the next, each time vowing
that he was taking his rapping as seriously as his acting. I can't
speak for every critic out there, but as for me Glover earned my
respect with his dedication. I've come to consider him a "two sport
star" for the modern generation - he is to the early 2010's what
Will Smith was to the early 1990's. He may even have the same
upside as a Hollywood movie star, but only time will tell.
"Because the Internet" is the latest chapter in the Gambino saga.
It's also his most ambitious album to date. Glover has structured
the album into sets that number anywhere from 2 to 5 tracks. You
could consider each one books on a shelf, lined up from left to
right, and each book being its own mini-album. That doesn't mean
you can't read a chapter out of any book at random if you so
choose. In fact the fifth chapter of one book is "3005" and that's
been branched out of the album as a single with an accompanying
music video, which for your enjoyment we've included below.
"Yeah, mi casa su casa, got a stripper like Gaza
Got so high off volcanoes, now the flow is so lava
Yeah, we spit that saliva, iPhone got message from Viber
Either the head is so hydra, or we let bygones be bygones
'My God, you pay for your friends?' I'll take that as a compliment
Got a house full of homies, why I feel so the opposite?
Incompetent ain't the half of it
Saturdays we Young Lavish-ing
Saddest shit, is I'm bad as it
These they took from the cabinet (woah)
Sorry, I'm just scared of the future
'Til 3005, I got your back, we can do this, hold up"
It's more than remarkable that Gambino manages to juggle his
acting and lyric writing with producing, and although he has
co-producers throughout (most notably Ludwig Göransson) it's
still extra work he's putting in. It's hard to find an area that
Gambino has slacked in out of the three - the quality throughout
"Because the Internet" is consistent. It's not a short album
either - most versions have no less than 19 songs. Some tracks
like "Flight of the Navigator" are almost six minutes long.
Phoning it in? Not even close. Glover put in some work. As
for "Navigator," Glover shows his versatility in another area
on this track, singing as opposed to rapping. He's added some
extra distortion to his voice, either because he likes the
sound or because he lacks confidence singing, but he reminds
me of Frank Ocean when crooning and should try it more often.
"I fell in love again
And none of this ever ended
Everything just kept going, and going and going
And even when you laughed, when you cried
And even when you were sad you were really happy
Because you were here
And I got to meet every star, every planet
Everything that made me
And we all kissed
And became the same"
If there's any kind of downside to Donald Glover becoming
increasingly serious as an artist, morphing into his own
version of Kid Cudi or
Tyler, the Creator, it's that
something of the playful comedic nature of his earlier free
mixtapes has been lost. There are hints here and there on
songs like "Sweatpants" and "Pink Toes" featuring Jhene Aiko,
but I don't think we'll get back to him trading bars with
mc chris or
Chaz Kangas any time soon.
This is a difficult spot to be in because I want
Glover to take rapping seriously, and if he wants to make
artistic visionary albums instead of jokes, I can't fault him.
It's fair to say he's not a Childish Gambino any more though -
he's an Adult Gambino. He grew up, and put away Childish things.
I fear if he takes himself TOO seriously from this point
forward he'll lose what made him an interesting rapper in
the first place. He may be a success "Because (of) the Internet,"
but he shouldn't have to prove his art to them or anyone else.
Glover can make art and still have fun. I hope he'll try.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: December 17th, 2013