By Tariq Weaver
Rarely has hip-hop seen a character as versatile as Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover. Glover is a jack-of-all-trades and to many of his critics he’s a master of none, mainly because he’s so unorthodox. He’s an actor and comedic writer on the NBC primetime hit Community, comedian, screenwriter, and above all of that he’s an Internet hip-hop phenomenon. Glover credits most of his success to his 2010 extended plays and mix tapes, the most famous being his album “Culdesac” released last summer. The Internet has been kind to Glover and provided him an audience of misfits, suburban loners, trust fund hipsters, and most importantly the “blerds”, also known as black nerds, which is a term Glover coined himself.
Most rappers scorn Glover for his uniqueness and individuality. Hip-hop, unfortunately, has created a paranoiac culture that deems any artist that challenges the status quo is suspect for being homosexual. Common criticisms of Glover are that he isn’t “hood” enough or his rhymes aren’t “black” enough. Yet in album he prods a fine line between “hood” and “black” in all of his tracks and he makes sure to ridicule his critics while doing so.
His latest release “Camp” is a definitive piece. It encapsulates his sound, witty punch lines, often time obnoxious cadence, matched over production comparable to Kanye West’s 808 “Heartbreak” album. Listeners are brawly introduced to a heartfelt and raw quest to maintain his authenticity, sanity, creativity, and identity amongst this newly found fame. His music contains simple beats, hard percussion, and relatable themes such as pain, infidelity, love, hate, lust, frustration, and jealousy.
“Camp” is the canvas into the psyche of Glover and with such a subjective point of reference, one would assume that this album serves more as a memoir rather than a piece of art for public consumption. As a final piece, Glover creates something that is inspiring, insightful, and danceable. It deals with subject matters that affect all young people. His lyrics are raw and daunting, yet the beats follow similar construction to the pop music of today. He’s able to express himself and produce something that even the dullest of music listeners will appreciate since the instrumentals are superb. True Gambino fans will appreciate his wit, humor and social criticisms, which are all authentically his own. Hip-hop needs a breath of fresh air, and Gambino provides it.