Childish Gambino-Camp [review]
I must admit, when I heard comedian Donald Glover’s rap alter ego Childish Gambino I didn’t think much of it. He was just a guilty pleasure and an alternative for Lil Wayne (you can hear the similarities). After listening to Camp, I must change my mind about Donald and begin taking his music career seriously.
Camp, like all his other albums, is a fun album. He goes through his normal focal points (his penis, creative ways to give girls his penis, drinking whiskey, etc.) but there’s something a lot deeper with this album. I want to stop right here and spoil the theme for you but that’ll be ruining the listening experience. There are heavy themes in this album but masked in funny wordplay and light-hearted melodies. This approach makes it work, because Cole World could be a tiring listening experience at time.
Camp does a great job of covering up the underlying themes, instead of throwing them in your face and boring you. The chorus on the opener “Outside” sounds like people gathered around the campfire singing “Kumbaya” but rather tells the tale of a rough upbringing. Not every song on this album follows this trend, “Firefly” and “Bonfire”(his version of A Milli) are a little more fun.
“All the Shine” picks up the serious content again. This song is about his struggle with being seen as a rapper due to his appearance and background. This song leads into the short interlude “Letter Home” which probably won’t make sense until the end of the album, and I promised not to spoil it.
The great thing about this album is its diverse production, provided by Donald himself and his friend Ludwig. “Heartbeat” is more upbeat than the prior songs on the album and has a more electronic sound. “Backpackers” is probably will be the most friendly track for the casual listener, which may have been to point. On “Backpackers’ he lashes out at critics who label him as a hipster and “nerd rapper”. Also spits his best verses on the entire album. “L.E.S.” features a violin sample and is another one of my favorites.
The album closes on a high note with “That Power”. It’s listed as being 7:42 but you must listen to it all to get the theme at the end. This song also features my favorite punchline “that’s 400 blows for you Truffaut niggas”. Get it? of course not.
What I like about this album is that is shows how hip hop is expanding. The average rapper today isn’t the pseudo macho man from the hood but may very well be the guy from the suburbs. While Donald is on his path to being a rapper, he’s speaking on the things he’s had to deal with: social awkwardness, being a nerd, not cool enough, and last, race. This album speaks on all these topics while being as enjoyable as Culdesac. Most won’t like it, but I think it’s one of the finer albums of the year, that’s if you want to wait around to hear the story at the end of “That Power”. For now, ignore the fact that this is a comedian and appreciate the quality of work here.
Final Grade: 4-5