Hip-Hop fans have had a hard time accepting Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino as a creditable artist in the Hip-Hop industry. Creditability is an essential factor to fans of the genre, and Childish Gambino has his questioned constantly. After a series of mix tape releases, Gambino’s first studio album, Camp (2011), was met with mixed reviews. Though well received by critics, Hip-Hop purists refused to accept Gambino as an MC. Gambino’s follow up to Camp, was the 2012 mix tape, Royalty. In an attempt to appease naysayers, Royalty was filled with some of the hottest names in rap: Wu Tang Clans RZA & Ghost Face Killah, Danny Brown, Nipsy Hussle, School-boy Q- and the list goes on. Royalty served as a preview of what Gambino could bring to the table among some of the most well renowned rappers in the game. Moving onward form Royalty, it was evident that Childish Gambino made drastic improvements lyrically, and his confidence on the mic seemed to be at an all-time high.
From the attempts to define personal struggles in Camp, to the boastful swag raps heard in Royalty, the most consistent element in Gambino’s music is his search for an identity. Childish Gambino’s latest release Because the Internet, is the culmination of trial and error, growth and development and straight grinding- the end result is an artist coming into his own.
Promotion for the album began mid-August of this year. The album, Because the Internet, is to be put into context with a short film directed by Gambino titled Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, alongside a script released by Glover also titled, Because the Internet. When all three of these outlets are taken in, listeners get to experience a Childish Gambino “concept world”, rather than a simple concept album.
Setting the stage for, Because the Internet- A simple interlude.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/1.-The-Library-Intro.mp3|titles=1. The Library (Intro)]
“The Crawl” sets the tone of, Because the Internet. The lively vocal samples at the beginning of the track get Gambino hyped, as he preps listeners for his latest release. The first words we hear Gambino deliver on the album are echoed in- “Who am I?” This question is an interesting way to start off the album. One of the major themes of Because the Internet, is the search for identity. From releasing his flurry of personal Instagram messages earlier in the year, to the BTI screen play, it seems that Gambino is trying to put all of the pieces together on this project, giving Childish Gambino a clear direction as an artist.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/2.-I.-The-Crawl1.mp3|titles=2. I. The Crawl]
This track introduces some of the major themes for, Because of the Internet. Gambino raps about how trivial content on the internet is. With the over load of music/videos available online, anyone can have a “Worldstar” moment. “Yeah, motherf**ka, take your phone out/To record this, ain’t nobody can ignore this/I’m more or less, a moral-less individual/Making movies with criminals, tryin’ to get them residuals.” These rhymes reference how some people will do anything for their 15 minutes, Worldstar is a shout out to the opportunists, why not.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/3.-II.-Worldstar.mp3|titles=3. II. Worldstar]
“Dial up” is an interlude into “The Worst Guys”. This song serves as “buffering time” to the next track, previewing a down tempo version of “The Worst Guys” instrumental.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/4.-Dial-Up.mp3|titles=4. Dial Up]
The Worst Guys
Gambino teams up with rising star Chance the Rapper, for “The worst guys.” Chance’s sole purpose on this track is to repeatedly say, “All she needed was some” on the chorus. The first time I listened to the song I was expecting a verse from Chance, but the fact that he sticks to the hook lets Gambino’s narrative remain the focus of the song. The pair have featured several times on record, and this one makes me excited to see what the two will come up with on future projects.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/5.-I.-The-Worst-Guys-Ft.-Chance-The-Rapper.mp3|titles=5. I. The Worst Guys (Ft. Chance The Rapper)]
Gambino lays down heavy-hearted lyrics over a laid back, neo-soul instrumental. “Shadows,” is a contemporary look at relationships that everyone can relate to on one level or another. Gambino shows the range in his voice over the hook, making him a triple threat: bars, melodies and creative story telling.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/6.-II.-Shadows.mp3|titles=6. II. Shadows]
Telegraph Ave (Oakland)
“Telegraph Ave” is introduced by a sample of R&B singer Lloyd’s “Oakland, as Gambino himself is driving towards the city of Oakland to see his girl. Gambino sings,“Foot on the gas/I’m just trying to pass/All the red lights/And the stop signs/I’m ready to go” towards the muse of this song. Very interesting track, one you can just cruse around to and think, just like Childish.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/7.-III.-Telegraph-Ave-Oakland-by-Lloyd.mp3|titles=7. III. Telegraph Ave (Oakland by Lloyd)]
“Sweat Pants” fits into the consistent “rich-kid” theme of Because of the Internet. This track doesn’t reflect on Gambino Himself, but rather the alter ego in the screen play, “The Boy.” “The Boy” takes pride in his new found fame and fortune on the bridge of the track where he repeats, “I’m winnin/Yeah, Yeah/I’m Winnin /Rich Kid, A**hole/ paint me as a villain”. The winnin’ reference is probably a shout out to the Charlie Sheen, who became a walking meme due to the internet.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/8.-IV.-Sweatpants.mp3|titles=8. IV. Sweatpants]
Though the majority of “3005’s” lyrics represent loyalty to a girlfriend, the inferred meaning of the song is a search for belonging. Childish releases his inner thoughts on isolation and loneliness, between the songs radio-friendly melodies. In an interview with, The Breakfast Club, Gambino says, “(3005) is a supplemental song, and it’s an existentialist song about whatever you need it to be about.”
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/9.-V.-3005.mp3|titles=9. V. 3005]
Playing Around Before the Party Starts
This is a piano interlude for the following track, “The Party.” This introduction sets the scene for a ritzy, Hollywood House Party.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/10.-Playing-Around-Before-The-Party-Starts.mp3|titles=10. Playing Around Before The Party Starts]
This track was produced by Gambino himself. The song is an anthem for all those who like to party, and ridicules those who don’t. “The Boy” and his party people are drinking, taking drugs, and losing control of their emotions. The damped, eerie instrumental furthers this feeling, and explains why “The Boy” loses it at the end of the track. “The Party” is probably my favorite track on the album.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/11.-I.-The-Party.mp3|titles=11. I. The Party]
This is one of the creepier songs off of the album. “The Boy,” while in a state on insomnia, explores all the weird thoughts that are keeping him up at night. According to Glover himself, he rarely ever sleeps. Rapping, acting and writing is a lot for one artist’s plate, so that checks out for me. This instrumental is very off setting, which contrasts nicely to Gambino’s erratic flow on this track.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/12.-II.-No-Exit.mp3|titles=12. II. No Exit]
Death by Numbers
Gambino takes a page out of the book of Yeezus on this interlude, as Gambino spills out auto-tune coded emotions with no real lyrical body. This is a teaser-trailer for fans, as the instrumental is too nice to not be rapped over.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/13.-Death-By-Numbers.mp3|titles=13. Death By Numbers]
Flight of the Navigator
“Flight of the Navigator” is a lucid dream for Gambino. Lines like, “And we all kissed/and became the same/We became the same/We became the same,” are nice thoughts of unity, love and peace. In a spoken word tangent, Childish provides ideas for how something this peaceful could one day be obtained.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/14.-I.-Flight-Of-The-Navigator.mp3|titles=14. I. Flight Of The Navigator]
Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)
“Zealots” is one of the more complex song on, Because the Internet. Here we find Gambino reflecting on his life, where he came from and where he’s going to be down the road. The instrumental is divided into three parts. “Zealot’s” begins with a nice orchestral intro as Gambino harmonizes his thoughts. As the track progresses the beat switches to an electronic/trap nightmare. Gambino’s home girl Kilo Kish makes an appearance on the track, contributing on the chorus nicely.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/15.-II.-Zealots-Of-Stockholm-Free-Information.mp3|titles=15. II. Zealots Of Stockholm (Free Information)]
“Urn” is another short interlude off of the album. In a few short bars Gambino sings, “As my mic goes to and fro/Waking up for one more show,” reflecting on his busy schedule and the effects it has on his career and personal life. For Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino, there will always be one more show, since he can’t resist the need to create.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/16.-III.-Urn.mp3|titles=16. III. Urn]
Gambino hooks up with the RNB singer, Jhene Aiko, for “Pink Toes.” The pair complement each other nicely on this up beat track. “Pink toes” is a nice throw back to Gambino’s Camp vibe. “Pink Toes,” feels like a summer jam for the winter time.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/17.-I.-Pink-Toes-Ft.-Jhene-Aiko.mp3|titles=17. I. Pink Toes (Ft. Jhene Aiko)]
Earth: The Oldest Computer
“Earth: The Oldest Computer”, is another upbeat track towards the end of, Because the Internet. Azalea Banks is featured on the catchy chorus. On this track Gambino compares our physical world to the online one we create, and discusses how easy it is to lose track of where you really are.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/18.-II.-Earth-The-Oldest-Computer-The-Last-Night-Ft.-Azealia-Banks.mp3|titles=18. II. Earth The Oldest Computer (The Last Night) (Ft. Azealia Banks)]
Life: The Biggest Troll
“Life: The Biggest Troll” is the epic conclusion to the album. “Man made the Web, you don’t need a name/Man made of faults, I ain’t too ashamed/Every thought I had, put it in a box/Everybody see it just before the cops.” Here, Bino raps about anonymity on the Internet and how nowadays anyone can create a second identity online, without compromising your true identity. This track ties up all of the loose ends on the album, bringing closure to “The Boy” story line, Gambino’s thought on the internet driven world and finally, gives you a sense of where Gambino’s talent can take him. For this nerd’s last laugh, Childish trolls listeners by ending the track abruptly- well played.
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/19.-III.-Life-The-Biggest-Troll-Andrew-Auernheimer.mp3|titles=19. III. Life The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer)]
Gambino explained the album title saying, “Because of the internet, I’m here. There are no rules, which is also the awesome thing.” Through the use of Youtube, Instagram and various other social media outlets, Donald Glover has been able to showcase all the effort and thought put into his project that is, Childish Gambino. Love him or hate him, Gambino has shown the industry he is a force to be reckoned with. The ability to implement his screen writing background into his music persona allows him to present fans with more than just a Hip-Hop album-you get see the album become its own entity. Because the Internets was aimed to be released over the Christmas break, allowing listeners to take the album in as an experience while everyone is home for the holidays. I would recommend taking the entire project in over your holiday break. Obviously I’m a big fan of Gambino’s work, let us know what your thoughts on the album are.