Childish Gambino’s paves his own path with new album

Gambino's newest album Because the Internet establishes his hip-hop fame.

Courtesy of rollingstone.com

Gambino's newest album Because the Internet establishes his hip-hop fame.

Hailing from Stone Mountain, Georgia, hip-hop/pop artist Donald Glover isn’t your typical rapper. Like Drake, Glover (who goes by the stage name Childish Gambino) dabbles in other areas. Following his graduation from New York University (NYU), Glover began his career in entertainment as a writer for “30 Rock,” and in 2009 joined the cast of NBC’s “Community.” Glover doesn’t only have experience in the fields of screenwriting and acting. He also experimented in comedy, and is most well-known for his 2011 hour-long stand-up special titled Weirdo. But he has had the most success, undoubtedly, as a hip-hop artist.

Gambino first began to gain considerable public attention with his 2011 release of Camp. The album produced a couple of hits, such as “Bonfire” and “Heartbeat.” Many critics, however, felt as though the album ranted too much about racism and personal relationships and featured a flow that was fake and exaggerated.

Gambino’s most recent rap album Because the Internet, on the other hand, establishes Glover as an artist that can compete with the greats of hip-hop. And it’s because he isn’t attempting to be someone he’s not. In Because the Internet, which features 19 songs and guest appearances from other respected artists such as Chance the Rapper & Jhene Aiko, Childish Gambino expresses all of his opinions, thoughts, and fears.

Gambino’s verses aren’t like those of rappers such as Dr. Dre or 50 Cent, who grew up on the streets and often rap about darker topics like guns and selling drugs. I think it’s impressive that Gambino’s doing his own thing and changing the face of the rap genre by telling the story of his own life, which wasn’t as difficult as those of some other rappers.

One of the most interesting aspects of Gambino’s sophomore album is that the entire work is divided into sets of roman numerals. Perhaps Gambino separates his album into groupings of songs to best represent the story he wants to tell to his audience. Because the Internet features a wide variety of songs. My personal favorite track, “I. The Worst Guys,” contains a guitar solo that belongs in a 1970s or 80s rock song. Gambino teams up with Chicago rising star Chance the Rapper (who sings the hook with Gambino) to tell the story of an awkward encounter with a female. “I-I-I-I-I need a minute cold water to the face / I-I-I couldn’t finish got the Uber from her place,” he raps. The production of the album as well as Gambino’s polished singing voice both complement his rapping.

On “III. Telegraph Ave. (“Oakland” by Lloyd),” Glover describes someone simply driving in a car, escaping his deepest thoughts and feelings: “Foot on the gas I’m just tryna pass / All the red lights and stop signs.” It’s hard not to become engulfed in the song what with the swooning synthesizers laced over Gambino’s mellow rapping and soothing singing. We already know that Donald Glover isn’t like other rappers who have been popular throughout the 2000s, but he shows us why in “II. Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night).” Gambino shares with us some of his innermost thoughts, such as how it’s impossible to plan out our last days on Earth because we never know when Death may strike: “See now I just wanna live forever, and ever / Maybe it’s the last night.” He even appeals to his more educated listeners, making a reference in this song to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Puritan classic The Scarlet Letter —”That ‘A’ on my chest like adultery,” he raps. In a verse in “II. Zealots of Stockholm: Free Information” Gambino expresses his confusion about the constant hatred aimed at the LGBT community: “I never understood the hate on a [person’s] preference / When every marriage is a same-sex marriage.”

Childish Gambino shouldn’t be overlooked simply because his music isn’t like that of other popular rap stars. The fact that he marches to the tune of his own drummer and raps about his personal opinions and feelings is what makes him so unique among a generation of rappers obsessed with bragging about wealth and female attention.