Here we have the latest release from Childish Gambino. We’re not quite sure what to call this thing? Half mixtape, half EP; and extremely Donald Glover, that’s for sure. There was a fair amount of anticipation for this project, especially with rumours being thrown around that this release would be the long awaited project from both Chance The Rapper and Gambino, which is supposedly in the works. This isn’t the case, but the project is still a gratifying and interesting concept piece which allows Glover to experiment.
The album is split into two parts; the first 11 songs being Gambino dreaming that’s he’s on a Gangsta Grillz mixtape , which explains the more mainstream ‘turnt up’ vibe you’ll get from a majority of the first segment. The second part continues the concept with him waking up in Kauai with a story narrated by…Jaden Smith. We’re not particularly fans of Jaden, but he does the job, and we’re just happy he wasn’t taken seriously enough to actually be given a verse. All proceeds go to keeping Kauai clean as well which is a pretty cool thing to do.
I do feel as though the first half of the mixtape is stronger. Despite having a strong preference for underground hip-hop over mainstream, I feel as though the production is a lot more crisp, the punch lines are still sufficiently witty and entertaining and the obvious mocking of the music industry with satirical shout outs and adverts tickles the intellectual side of me just enough to stop it from falling into arrogant idiocy. The more odic tracks such as ‘U don’t have to call’ sport beautifully melodic production and vocals which have improved significantly since Glover’s last compiled release, Before The Internet. There are also a few notable samples, such as a remix of ‘Move That Dope, which I think is more accomplished than the original. These samples aid in getting his foot in the mainstream door, (though he’s probably already a member of the mainstream club with how ‘3005’ has been adopted by the radio). The standout sounds on this tape (for us) are ‘Fucks Given’, ‘U Don’t Have To Call’, and ‘Candler Road’. The skits make for interesting listening, and are successful in building the atmosphere of the tape, and merging the tracks together appropriately towards the storyline. The most triumphant element of this release is perhaps the fact that it works, however; this tape manages to merge aggressive gangsta rap and slow and meditative ballads into a coherent piece of art. It is highly ambitious, and offers a fresh and more thoughtful approach to the modern hip hop scene.
Gambino has obviously put a lot of work into finding ‘his’ sound, but I think it’s safe to say now that would be pigeon-holing himself. His versatility is established and supported by his acting talent to take on other personas and enter different mindsets. Let’s hope he keeps this up, his artistry through music is something many modern artists would be jealous of and he has the world ahead of him now with such an abundance of great music behind him, and the massive hype for his upcoming release with Chance. We’re loving this release, and will definitely be bumping it for a while.
Listen to the mixtape HERE.
Written by Chucky D.