Tag Archives: donald glover

Childish Gambino: because the internet

5 Jan


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.


Childish Gambino: “Bonfire”

26 Jun

“Childish Gambino, homegirl drop it like the NASDAQ
Move white girls like there’s coke up my asscrack
Move black girls cause, man, fuck it, I’ll do either
I love pussy, I love bitches, dude, I should be runnin’ PETA.”

Childish Gambino (known also as Community star and 30 Rock writer Donald Glover) leaves no room for any doubt about his intentions with “Bonfire,” the first single from his latest album Camp. “Bonfire” is essentially one long unrelenting rant, from start (wailing klaxons, haunting gospel chant and a jarring syncopated drum-machine snare beat), to finish (one word – “bitch”). Along the way, we’re treated to an onslaught of offbeat and off-colour references, masterfully-crafted punnery and sheer unadulterated emotion, with some catchy hooks thrown in for good measure. While this version of Gambino has turned some people off (I’m looking at you, Pitchfork), for your sake I hope that’s not the case. Sit back, listen and enjoy.

The Gambino you’ll hear on this track is the raw unabashed Gambino from his earlier (free) single “Freaks & Geeks”, dialled up to 11. Gambino’s boasts are as frequent and grand as they are hilarious and fierce. You’ll find yourself grinning in appreciation at lyrics like “My dick is like an accent mark, it’s all about the over E’s” and “I made the beat retarded so I’m calling it a slow jam.” Or at least, you will if you manage to keep up with the fast-paced, blink-and-you’ll-miss it speed at which such gems are dropped.

That also applies to the pop-culture references liberally scattered over the track – Gambino seems to have made sweet passionate love to some form of pop-culture goddess (Aubrey Plaza perhaps?) in order to produce this single. Invader Zim? Check. Toe-Jam and Earl? Check. Hidden insult aimed at Drake? Check. Not all of his references work quite as well as they should (there are probably better ways to bring up Human Centipede) but Gambino delivers them all with absolute commitment.

Ironically,the song’s music video is where Gambino falls short. While it is indeed a wonderfully conceptualized and filmed piece of art, the story in the video just doesn’t quite match the lyrics and intention of the song. You’ll see Donald Glover in fine acting form, but not in Gambino persona.

Verdict: Bonfire is a song that needs to be listened to once, then once again after looking up the lyrics, and then once again after looking up all the references you may not have understood. After that, just sit back and take a break. Then go listen to it again. By now, a large chunk of you will have fallen in love with all that Gambino has to offer. For those few who remain (poor, poor Pitchfork), Gambino has some parting remarks:

“Rap’s Step-father: yeah you hate me, but you will respect.”

– Manickam.

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