Dropping at the end of 2013, on December 6th 2013, the multi-talented Donald Glover released his second studio album, Because the Internet, under his rapping pseudonym: Childish Gambino. The album falls under an hour long and was produced almost entirely by himself and usual collaborator Ludwig Goransson. This isn’t going to be a review of the album, but more of a look back on what made it such a dynamic and impressive piece of work. First, let’s talk about the presentation of this album.
Gambino didn’t just drop an album off for you to pick up at Best Buy; he presented you with a film to set up the main character: The Boy. Clapping for the Wrong Reasons starring Glover himself, gave everyone a glance at who we were going to follow around for 19 tracks. As a short film by itself, it holds up with some good performances and solid cinematography (much more than I can say about Runaway by Kanye West). The screenplay that went along with the release of the album is actually pretty well written and adds to each track giving it a new life and meaning than just on a sonic level. For example, the track “Urn” includes a dialogue in the screenplay between Gambino and a girl that he meets giving more insight into the context of the song, and where the character is at that point in the album. Another, more subtle way Gambino presents his work, is during the run of interviews he went on to promote the album. By wearing the same outfit in every interview, Gambino is playing the role of the character just as he did in Clapping for the Wrong Reasons which helps to actually personify the main character of Because the Internet and add another level to the album.
Sonically, Because the Internet is the sharpest Childish Gambino has been in a long time lyrically and production wise. The tracks on this tape are eclectic but polished with each song sounding different from the one before and at the same time transitioning smoothly from one to another. One of my favorite examples of this is track 10, “Playing Around Before the Party Starts”, being an interlude to track 11, “I. The Party”. Track 10 sets a scene of Gambino playing a piano before people come over to his house for a party and then going into track 11 where he actually describes the party over a nasty beat eventually kicking everyone out of the party at the end of the track. Every song on this album is so well-thought with a beginning, middle, and end, not just lyrically, but on the production side as well. There are movements to each track like a classical arrangement with beat changes all over this thing and they are so smooth you don’t even notice it at times. The last song, which is just Gambino doing what he does best, straightforward rhyming for about 5 minutes is the perfect end to this album wrapping up all of the ideas in it perfectly.
If you haven’t listened to Because the Internet because maybe you think Gambino is overrated or you just didn’t get around to it I would highly suggest going back and checking the album out. It might have to grow on you, but once it clicks you’ll understand the genius behind the album. Start with track one and just keep your ears open until the end, there is something on here for everyone to enjoy.
Don’t forget to check out his latest release STN MTN/Kauai