Childish Gambino | Because The Internet (Album Review)

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The first time I heard of “Childish Gambino” was when Camp was released the same day as Take Care and someone tried to tell me in line that I was making a mistake buying the one and not the other, since he insisted that Camp was going to be better.  After finding out Donald Glover got his rap alias from the Wu-Tang Rap Name Generator, that he had written for NBC’s 30 Rock, and would be acting in the new comedy “Community” with Chevy Chase and friends, we begin to see another seemingly talented media frontiersman.  But Camp went on to only prove that Glover offers absolute, divided attention to all the fields he tends to.  Two years later, the turkey has returned offering honest modifications to his craft with his sophomore LP Because The Internet.  

More after the jump.

Quite unsurprisingly, Glover has written a 75-page screenplay to parallel the album, to be paired with and read alongside the album (because everybody reads as fast as they listen).  Other than the obvious issues at hand, the album insists to be understood only in that light, resulting in an audience who needs a script-in-hand to better swallow what is offered (which does pertain to Glover’s wordplay that drifts towards cheesy more often than clever).  However, since the album revolves around a certain concept of the internet and its eager generation, a screenplay to partner an album sounds right up Glover’s ally.  Even without the fiction, Because The Internet outputs rays of excellent production and rarely offers boredom.

The album only contains two recognizable features.  The first being current internet-generation-phenomena Chance the Rapper, coming in at track five “The Worst Guys”, not with a verse but with a hook that has no object (all she needed was some ___ ).  But the frustration isn’t with Chance for not RAPPING, it’s with Donald for even featuring him on the track itself… cause he wasn’t really featured (except in the highly entertaining video).  That being said, the song still proves to be positively warm and energetic, ending with smooth guitars that swarm and sail.  The second being his main squeeze Jhene Aiko, who offers clear and crisp vocals on “Pink Toes”.  This feat is a true triumph since the album covers much ground with its nearly impeccable sound progression, and to have just about everything else (writing, producing, performing) be done by our frontman Glover, it would seem that his attention was focused on the project in its entirety.

Take track three “Worldstar” for example.  The track begins with a winding up of the trap windmill as the bass rumbles and the drums echo, bouncing off the walls; then transforms into a subtle saxophone seduction.  Pulling off a trick like this is something not even A$AP Ferg the trap lord could pull off.  The album is filled to the brim with interludes and does overflow at some points.  Since the LP is telling a story, we are given these interludes so the listener can maintain focus on what’s occurring.  The problem here: the tracks are set up as if they were chapters or acts, but the production over-shines them and the result is a jumpy track pattern lead by single “3005” that yeah is catchy, but sounds like it could of been on Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers.  

Even though Camp wasn’t all terrible, there wasn’t much of a direction to go but up any way.  However, Because The Internet is a huge step for this artist (who tends to spread himself thin on occasion) and concentrates on improving the things Glover does best; from being lyrically witty and having it work about half the time, to creating sounds that are delightfully diverse in their comparisons.  Since no other artist out there is doing all these things as Glover is, a sense of uniqueness will be felt by those who entertain his projects.  Take your pick because there are indefinite options here as Because The Internet holds true to being one of the only projects of this past year that offers more rewards than most.

7.4/10

 

– @SethLitz

Download: Childish Gambino – Because The Internet


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