- Best Rap Performance, "3005"
- Best Rap Album
I remember being excited for Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) for releasing this last year. For some reason, I like that he's finding musical success.
Interesting fact, well, to me, is that recording took place in basketball player Chris Bosh's mansion, which Glover rented out. Additionally, a 72-page screenplay and a short film called "Clapping for the Wrong Reasons" were released along with and to promote the album.
According to early interviews, we're in for honesty. I'm down for it, especially for someone who chose to cut down acting time in favor of music. There's got to be devotion behind these tracks.
There are… 19 tracks here. "The Library - Intro" is literally just that though - a clicking little intro.
"I.Crawl" comes in a little aggressively. The beat is heavy and we're thrown into this world with no warning. The vocals are right up against that microphone and completely clear - way to to recording team. It's actually a really simple mix when you think about it - nothing really clogging up the system while you're trying to understand what's happening there.
The beat changes up a little bit with "II. WORLDSTAR." This guy has a great handle on words and an even better handle on the mix. There's elements here that are mixed in so perfectly that it's a little scary. Not my kind of music personally, but massive respect for the handle on detail there.
"Dial up" turns out to be a sort of gentle, I guess misty dial tone, leading into the next section.
Chance the Rapper is included on the next track, "I. The Worst Guys." Um, there was definitely just a "Sister, Sister" / "Smart Guy" reference. I guess you can really hear anything in rap. I like the flow of this and the easiness of the listening, but I can't get into much else. At least it's relaxing.
"II. shadows" maintains that kind fo flow sound, but it a bit more enjoyable. It's nice, yah know? Nothing's too insane, and even the breakups in the music are quite as throwing as they could be. Granted, they're weirdly placed, and I feel like my CD is skipping sometimes, despite streaming the music right now, but somehow this all becomes forgivable, even as the song takes darker twists down the line.
We're up to a quiet whispered track for "III. Telegraph Ave. ("Oakland" by Lloyd)." While I'm aware of how much the info on Wikipedia might help me on this album, I'm not opening it for more info for some reason. I'd rather just feel this one. What I feel here is a really obnoxious electronic blur underneath some of the song. If feels like you're hearing some kind of construction underneath your regular working sounds.
"IV. sweatpants" is sort of interesting. There's a judgement angle there, and I want this to have a point so badly that I'm going to believe it does regardless of intentions. The rap's freakin genius though, beat-wise. How anyone keeps up such a clean rhythm still blows my mind. The breakdown towards the end is a sudden drop, but we're moving out and on.
Spotify lies and doesn't put the roman numeral first for "V. 3005" until you see the track in the window. The sung portion of the song sounds just like the previous one, keeping a slightly more gentle part going in an otherwise sort of rough song.
"Playing Around Before The Party Starts" is just that - a jaunt on the piano before the next track launches.
Then, "I. The Party" amps everything up from deep down. And holy crap, the rapping is too fast to comprehend. He's on edge and cuts it off real fast.
You know, if you're really following the storyline here, the start of "II. No Exit" is a little scary. He's confessing to being a murderer after kicking people out of his house party.
Okay, next up is… "Death By Numbers." Comforting. In actuality, it's an interlude that spiral this all a little farther downward.
"I. Flight Of The Navigator" has a nice lift back up, even with the distorted vocals that basically give it an underwater feel. The main voice comes back in soon though, with and easier way about it. I'd even venture to call this one comforting at this point. Of course, I'm saying that at about three minutes into an almost six minute song. But a few minutes later, yes, it maintains this really nice, calm level. This is a really nice breath of air in what's been a bit of an intense time in the life of this album.
That gets cut off quickly in we launch into "II. zealots of stockholm [free information]." I'm not saying it amps right back up; everything still remains calm. Actually, it's so calm that it's hard to hear what's just about being whispered in the background. Then, at about a minute and twenty in, we're completely disrupted. Like, flat line disrupted to change up the beat. That background voice is back in with an entirely different mood, and the rapping makes a comeback. There's a whole story to be heard here: it's terrifying and a little entrancing.
"III. Urn" maintains the pretty chill vibe. Gambino's vocals are taken up to a higher register, giving a really new feel to this shorter piece. It almost feels like slow jam improv until the backing vocals come in for support.
We're into the final portion of the album and are joined by Jhene Aiko for "I. pink toes." Rainbows & sunshine… okay, that's unexpected. Things seem to have turned around to a happier picture in this section, with some sense of goodness. Maybe love's been found? Maybe it's just nice to not be alone.
"II. earth: the oldest computer (the last night)" brings the beat back up a bit. There was a chipmunks reference. Shaking that one off though, and listening to the rest of the words. Sounds like there's an attempt to maintain something and take advantage of this time. Then the rapping drives up the song's momentum very quickly. Yeah, if does seem like an end-of-the-world type of situation here, and the mix is really out there - never staying in one place too long for sure.
For the final song, we're into "III. Life: The Biggest Troll [Andrew Auernheimer]" and things are getting wrapped up nicely. I'm kind fo cracking up at the idea of the general troll - because who knows what of this or really anything on the web could be just that? This is probably the most real track I've come across here though, from words used about his own person, to very natural volume and tone in the rapping and speaking to the audience. He knows when the performer has to turn back on and appeal, and he brings it back down in more personal moments.
Added to My Playlist:
- "II. shadows"
- "II. earth: the oldest computer (the last night)"
So, I get it, I think. The album's exactly what this guy wanted for himself, and it's unique and well composed. It's also really had today to make an album of this nature, where so much is replying on the mix itself, but this is done well. It's clean and produced impressively. All-in-all, good to see Childish Gambino back on the scene and doing exactly and only what he wants to be doing.
Don't forget to check out our ongoing Grammys 2015 playlist on Spotify as we continue to add albums to the list!