Album Review: Because the Internet by Childish Gambino
Fairly Good, Based on 19 Critics
DIY Magazine - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Hip hop has been a cranial splatter on the wall of the music industry this year, a year in which even the biggest artists are attempting things usually left for those in the underground. Kanye scared the majority of his fans with the intimidating ‘Yeezus’, Danny Brown put out a schizophrenic will with ‘Old’, Drake tried to convince us that he started from the bottom (he didn’t) and Death Grips leaked their own album, again. It’s been a messy year for the genre, but no album embodies that as unapologetically as ‘Because the Internet’.
Fluff. Childish Gambino's sophomore album, Because the Internet, is filled with fluff. The album doesn't need several interludes, nor the 14 tracks separated into different sub-sections or a script, but it does and it works. Prior to the release, Gambino stated that he wanted to build a world around this album — including a screenplay intended to be read with the LP— and that's the dilemma: do you listen to the album in the way the artist intended or enjoy the record as a singular experience? Whatever your decision, it doesn't take away from what is largely a great album.On its own merits, Internet is a well-produced effort that evokes a Channel Orange-motif with existential, disjointed stories that feel eerily interlinked.
Having left his full-time role on the hit comedy Community to concentrate on music, rapper Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino gets broader and bolder on his 2013 effort Because the Internet, an indulgent kaleidoscope of studio tricks and celebrity problems that's still wildly attractive thanks to its smarts and ability to swing. That latter bit comes courtesy of primary producers Glover and Ludwig Goransson, who mix the edgy sounds of indie rap and indie pop with the best the mainstream world of R&B has to offer. Cool, radio-friendly crooner Lloyd shows up on the creamy West Coast dream called "Telegraph Ave.
I confess, earlier this year I was a little worried about Donald Glover, the uber-talent behind Childish Gambino. In less than five years, Glover has gone from wunderkind television writer, to an up-and-coming stand-up comedian, to a lead role on a hip sitcom, and now a defiant hip-hop artist. After announcing he was quitting his gig on NBC's Community, Glover posted a series of handwritten confessions about his fears as a performer, about letting people down (specifically Community showrunner Dan Harmon), and about his deeply personal insecurities.
Childish Gambino’s debut album, Camp, was bad. It wasn’t the 1.6 shot heard ‘round the internet bad, but the album was brimful of lackluster. Camp found itself oversaturated with poppy production better suited for Kidz Bop reiterations and childish (pun!) punchlines derivative of the likes of Lil Wayne and a 2000s-era Ludacris. Camp isn’t the only instance of this—it’s the trend that became the rule after repeated offenses on mixtapes.
Childish Gambino :: Because the InternetGlassnote/Island RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonDonald 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.
Childish Gambino used to wonder where he fit in. Raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, he claims on his 2011 debut Camp that he used to get called “Oreo” and “faggot.” He also raps that he sounds weird, not to refer to his persistently prepubescent squeak, but “like nigga with a hard ‘r.'” Yet another line points to his short-shorts and jokes, although in retrospect, he could have clarified that particular punchline: Did he mean his NPR-referencing one-ups (“Terry Gross on the mic, I’m the Talk of the Nation?”) or his stint as the only “cool young person” of “30 Rock’s” writers? But he won’t, not anytime soon. Now, he raps because he has quit his day job at NBC’s “Community.” He raps because, well, he can.
On his second album, actor-turned-rapper Childish Gambino wields his nerdiness with newfound confidence, spitting meditations on Internet culture with fluency and ease. The Community star (a.k.a. Donald Glover) drops winking bars like "Never gonna reach a million/Eventually, all my followers realize they don't need a leader," while the click-worthy upstarts Chance the Rapper, Kilo Kish and Jhené Aiko make cameos.
Childish Gambino, the creation of US actor/standup Donald Glover, was initially seen by some as too plugged in to media circles to be persuasive as a rapper. His second major label album, which loosely links digital-age themes such as trolls and dial-up, perpetuates that impression. He rhymes about Martin Scorsese, Coachella and movie residuals, widening the gap between himself and "real" MCs; but Because the Internet is not to be dismissed.
A rapper with a parallel career as a comedian, Donald McKinley Glover makes music that can be dark and abrasive but is peppered with moments of oddball humour. On his second studio album, much of that humour exists at the structural level, in the timing of vocal samples, in the incongruity of an overblown guitar solo. In the lyrics, comedy is offset by anxiety – Glover reflects on some unsettling phenomena of our internet-addled age, such as the 3D printing of guns – and his restless delivery (which, intentionally or not, mimics Frank Ocean on several tracks) is matched by jerky, off-kilter production.
Donald Glover is a restless polyglot, and you can watch him tire of a medium just as he appears to get good at it. He caught the small screen bug after a stint as a writer for “30 Rock” and skated off to join the ensemble cast of NBC’s “Community” in 2009. With “Community” approaching what might be its twilight, Glover jumped ship this year to become the star and showrunner of his own loosely autobiographical FX sitcom “Atlanta.” He hasn’t had much time for stand-up since 2011’s hour-long special Weirdo.
Donald Glover is a clever guy. He claims as much on “The Worst Guys,” a track from Because the Internet, his second full-length album as Childish Gambino: “Tia and Tamara in my bed, I'm a Smart Guy. ” He's referencing the mid-'90s show starring the Mowry twins' little brother, Tahj, and barring the overtly icky consequences behind his implied incest, the line is a turn of phrase that plumbs the kind of Buzzfeed-baiting nostalgia that makes every piece of pop-cultural detritus from the '90s somehow worth remembering.
Because of hipster backlash, authenticity has largely become a moot point in popular music, save for hip-hop. Whether this is valid and whether an artist’s past or how a project is funded is relevant to the actual text can continue to be debated ad nauseam. The truth is, with regards to Childish Gambino, most people have already made up their minds regarding Donald Glover, in the sense that they know whether their opinion of Glover and his over-arching celebrity matter when listening to Childish Gambino.
The birth of Childish Gambino happened back in 2008 when Donald Glover plugged his name into a Wu-Tang rap name generator, thus his name was born and out comes his first tape, Sick Boi. For the early part of the 30-year-old’s rap career, hip-hop purists assumed the once writer for NBC’s 30 Rock and cast member of NBC’s Community was trolling in his spare time, slinging goofy raps and calling himself a rapper. However, the growth is present on his sophomore effort Because The Internet.
Love Donald Glover or hate him, this writer/actor/comedian/rapper unquestionably ranks among America’s most accomplished performers. Two years after the much loved/hated “Camp,” Glover returns with the tour of fame and its discontents that overworked artists often resort to. But this tour is also a tour de force, in which the production is as rich as the raps, spanning pop, underground R&B, club music, and psychedelic experimentation.
The recent announcements that Donald Glover would have a far smaller role on Community and that he has signed a development deal to create a show of his own— coupled with his very public, heavily scrutinized Instagram therapy—have built expectations to the point that the release of his second album as Childish Gambino feels like a sink-or-swim moment. The level of anticipation surrounding this release—in certain circles, anyway—and Glover’s outsized personality might make you wonder if Because The Internet can get a fair shake from an audience primed toward scrutiny and disappointment. What limited Gambino’s early, largely inessential mixtapes—aside from the annoying “Sick Boi” nasal vocal technique—was a lack of variety.
It’s hard to tell if Donald Glover is having a good year or a bad year. He left the goofball NBC show Community that gave him an in with your parents. He Instagrammed a series of notes on Marriott stationary in which he said things like, “This is the first time I’ve felt helpless.” But he also got some screen time on Chance The Rapper‘s game-changing Acid Rap, released a short film, Clapping For The Wrong Reasons, and made this new record.
opinion byBRENDAN FRANK The Internet had –still has, I suppose– the potential to be an incredibly unifying tool. As a medium for collaboration and collective mobilization, it is also probably the most underutilized resource in history. It has instead become a conduit for humanity’s endless appetite for distraction, a sensory assault of information.
First things first – Childish Gambino is a disastrously clunky name for a rapper. This is less to do with the specific pairing of words and more a case of what the latter part will immediately evoke in the mind of any hip hop fan; thoughts of the Wu-Tang Clan. By Donald Glover’s own admission, he used the Wu-Tang name generator to select this new identity (what’s yours? Mine is Fearless Dominator, which, funnily enough, is what my parents were going to call me if I’d been a girl.