Childish Gambino’s second album because the internet is in parts brilliant. It is also in parts terrible. In that respect, it does bring to mind its namesake. It also comes with a 75 page script for a screenplay. That however, does not bring to mind its namesake. At least it wouldn’t were it not filled with emojis, internet-speak and embedded videos. You can read it here if you choose to. I did not.
Briefly, the screenplay is about “The Boy”, really Donald Glover, who lives off his wealthy father, really Rick Ross, and lives in the internet. The theme of the internet is sprinkled in impressively throughout the album. Interestingly, the sheer density of references to the immediate present give the album a slightly futuristic feel. These lyrics would not look out of place on reddit. On one hand, he sneaks ain’t nobody got time for that into a line, but on the other he makes a chant of GPOY into a chorus which, while not as bad as it seems on paper, is still pretty bad. This sort of inconsistency flows into the rest of the lyrics as well. Clever C-3PO lines and an excellent play on KKK sit next to Bangkok puns. Throwaway references to subjects like the Gaza strip don’t do much either. Still, he is the only person in rap who would make a line out of onomatopoeia.
He has all the technical skill he needs as a rapper and his production is excellent. The album comes in harder than Camp, he practically opens with the line “And I still put it down like the family dog.” He is actually quite a good singer as well, showing up well on “telegraph ave.” and the Weeknd-like “flight of the navigator.” I really like “3005” and the music video that goes with it and the entire final run from “flight of the navigator” to “life: the biggest troll.” I just don’t like having to skip past the other half of the album.
This is certainly an interesting album and it contains enough quality to deserve quite a few listens but is ultimately too unreliable to unreservedly recommend.