The second time watching Childish Gambino’s newly released video for Telegraph Avenue (or “Oakland”) is an interesting experience. I say second, because if we’re going to be entirely honest, we (like most people, probably) didn’t even make it the whole way through on the first viewing. We are already very familiar with the song, as it’s been out since Because The Internet was released in December 2013, and if you’re not paying much attention, the video comes across as cliché love crap, including the cheesy staples of a love shack, and romantic fire on the beach. We turned it off about three quarters of the way through. It wasn’t a bad video (it was well filmed and all), but it just didn’t seem to be saying much.
But we’re not afraid to admit we were wrong.
On being prompted to give the video another chance by someone who had watched it in its entirety, we were surprised to find shit hitting the fan in the closing scenes of the vid. Gambino gets run over by a car, turns into something straight out John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, and brutally murders a couple of guys, sparing the love of his life Jhene Aiko.
With the addition of features such as the screenplay written for Because The Internet, it’s quite clear Glover is extremely passionate about his art, and likes layering his work with easter eggs and riddles for fans to work out. His audience are used to this, and therefore promptly jumped on this new video, coming up with what initially seemed ludicrous ideas about what it means, which with a little research, appear perhaps to be no so ludicrous at all.
The short reasoning for Gambino turning into the creature is that its a metaphor for him releasing his ‘true personality’ via his recent releases. Depression and insecurity are things which Gambino has stated he’s been prone to. Some have said that the monster in the video is Gambino’s inner personality which he unfortunately feels he must hide from the world. The people he kills are his fans, because they don’t like him for his true self, but he protects Jhene Aiko (who is both in real life and the vid) someone very close to him and the only person who’s able to relate to him and is therefore unfazed at his transformation. This alien creature concept may also be a metaphorical visual representation of Gambino flexing his muscles at accusations of being a ‘white rapper’, and that he’s not afraid at killing other rappers in the game. This ties in the with the aggressive STN MTN segment of his new mixtape, and as a representation of his own words ‘people forget I’m still a nigga from Atlanta’.
The other theory, and this is where the tinfoil hats come on, suggests that the Sweatpants, Urn, 3005 and Worst guys videos all build up to this alien creation of Gambino’s, and that even the screenplay alludes to him having something else inside of him whether it be symbolic or literal in the universe he’s portrayed. For the full story, check out this Reddit article, as there’s no point in me explaining it again on here: http://www.reddit.com/r/donaldglover/comments/2iymo4/connection_between_all_of_the_videos/
and see these images: http://imgur.com/a/EiXuu
If this is the case (as it appears so to be) it would have had to be in planning for over a year now to develop to this point and is a testament at Glover’s commitment and complexity and is a clear gauge of how much effort he really puts into his work. As we’ve said about Gambino before, it is totally refreshing to have a Hip Hop artist pushing the boundaries of his medium.
Here are the videos in question (in order of story), check them out yourselves, and enjoy it as a mini Gambino playlist while you’re at it.