Because the Internet
Released: 6 December 2013 (Glassnote, Island Records)
Because the Internet is Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino’s second studio album and his most ambitious work to date. In order to “analyze” Because the Internet, I think it is important to first analyze his past works:
In 2011 Childish Gambino released his premier album, Camp. Camp is a relatively catchy album but was heavily criticized for his seemingly hypocritical views. Apparently it is hard for people (The Needle Drop cough cough) to comprehend the fact that one can be seemingly depressed in their personal life, yet have a cocky swagger when in the spotlight. People have called Childish Gambino fake, not self-aware, and other ignorant things. The fact of the matter is that he is self-aware, which comes thru on Because the Internet and is apparent off the record–as in, literally not on his record. When on the Arsenio Hall Show, Gambino said “he could care less what others think”. On his Instagram he made a series of posts flat out saying what he was insecure about. Hell, the title “Because the Internet” is him acknowledging that he became famous… “Because the Internet.” This is not “a false outsider persona” as Ian Cohen of Pitchfork would have you believe; this is Childish Gambino, rapper that acknowledges the conflicting views and hypocritical lifestyle that society imposes.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s review the album. In simple terms, Because the Internet, I would have to say, is a lovechild of Channel Orange and Yeezus.
Now, anytime anything is compared with Kanye, it gets the reputation of being a knockoff or wannabe, so two quick statements regarding that:
- No shit. Kanye is the best; of course everyone wants to be like him.
- When I say that Because the Internet is similar to Yeezus what I mean is that this album aims to be huge–to captivate the audience in a new, revolutionary way.
So what makes it new or revolutionary? One is the screenplay. How many albums do you know of that come with a screenplay? I’m not an expert on scripts, but overall I’d say it was a pretty good script.
As far as production Gambino goes balls to the wall, turning his back to almost all of his previous work. Yet he kept the same producer, Ludwig Göransson, which I think shows their depth. A rapper and a composer usually don’t make a rap album, let alone an experimental album. Gambino’s not only changed the production style but has also reduced the amount of rapping, and did a bit of singing (which I’m personally not a fan of, but hence the Channel Orange comparison).
Lyrically, Gambino is consistent; delivering his trademark variety of flows and usually ending with quick-witted allusions. But, in this album, his rapping takes a backseat to the production. I can understand that, since he is trying to make a grandiose record, but the lyrics are what drew me in as a fan. My opinion is, too much instrumentation, not enough vocals.
I don’t know how I feel about this album because I’m trying to compare it to past Gambino albums and other experimental albums. More than likely this is because it is so different from most hip-hop albums and does not have a specific label making not quite categorizable. For convenience, I’m considering this genre “experimental.” Compared to past albums, it definitely takes on a more electronic, noise-oriented approach. However, this aspect of the album is really hit-and-miss, in my opinion. Nonetheless, it helps lead music into a new ambitious direction.
People always point to Danny Brown, Kanye, and a handful of other rappers as being game changing, but with this Childish Gambino has thrown his hat in the ring. I don’t know if you’ll love or hate it but it is a little break from the radio and a truly unique listen.
Rating: Like It
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