Spotify Listen Link: Childish Gambino – Camp
This might be one of the major sad points about me missing Bonnaroo this year. I've never seen Donald Glover - er, excuse me, Childish Gambino, live before, and I was looking forward to this alter-ego rapper a lot. *shrug* Such is life.
He's done two mix tapes, I Am Just a Rapper and I Am Just a Rapper 2, rapping over indie rock music from Sleigh Bells and Grizzly Bear. Culdesac was his third full-length album, and this album marks his first time on an official label (Glass Note).
Anywhos, here's the EPK, which is always fun to see ---
Aw, Washington Square gets mentioned in "Fire Fly." I like the addition of the female vocals in there - but I'm also kind of a big fan of these song that have rapped verses & sung choruses. The hook overall is sort of meh - not anything to fall in love with, but it's a nice break from the verses that are all on being black and dealing with growing up that way. And he makes it all sound so easy, go figure.
"Bonfire" is a little rougher, but I think this is the kind of beat that you look for in a rap party atmosphere. The lyrics aren't fantastic, but I'm also a white girl living in Manhattan, so hearing about girls all over him and praising his black lifestyle isn't necessarily entertaining. This is one I'd probably have to hear live to enjoy, if for nothing else than lyrics are harder to take to heart in those atmospheres.
*Parental advisory on the video, at least the beginning.
"Letter Home" completely has the same exact violin line at the start as the last song. It picks up some, with a really gorgeous string section throughout this short piece. It's actually sort of sweet and endearing, to be honest. Sincerity can be a lost art in the realm of rap.
Oh sweet, we go a little Daft Punk for "Heartbeat," but only musically, promise. There's a distorted backing going on, and everything's put through some electronic device to make it all seem completely computerized. All of it, that is, except the actual voice itself - there are some subtle things about it, like the breaths taken, that remind me that there is a man's actual voice being used. Right, there are lyrics going on here though - that I am not really listening to closely enough. I'm tuning back in to a part that's totally after a rough breakup. Yup. This is probably not the healthiest of relationships. To put it plainly - the sex is good, but the relationship's complicated. Go figure!
Okay, the sad crying violin does not help the sadness argument as we move in to "LES" (which, thank you Heather, is Lower East Side, lol). I don't know, it's just kind of a dragging filler song that makes me sadder for him than I think a rap song usually ever can. I mean god, dude, is anything okay in your world? This is the kind of guy I can't stand - fishing for the compliments to lift himself up - though others.
"Hold You Down" is kind of whispy. mean, I get it, it's more solemn and making you feel for him, that he's been held back by people. The comparisons to other stars are kind of interesting - stuff on Will Smith and James Franco (apparently he's the white Donald Glover?). I don't know, maybe I'm not paying enough attention right now. The song doesn't exactly have the desired effect on me I guess. It's okay, but I'm not buying in right now.
And now for something a little different - a baby's mobile track leads in to the song "Kids." I'm zoning out on the lyrics a little, but the background to this is absolutely beautiful. I mean, violins take on their own lovely sound no matter the atmosphere, but the added beat in this gives a really unique sound. The chorus is showing that he's ahead of the rest of the guys and the rest are just struggling to keep up. The verses are more on girls and his varying opinions on them - a lot of which is based on color or pasts. It's easy enough to zone out on those though. This is a weird situation where the chorus and background music outweigh the rest enough.
Trying to figure out the point of "You See Me." I just keep catching lines about Asian girls - am I loosing it? I almost like the beat and sampling in the backing, but not enough to want to hear it again. The fast rapping close to the end is damn impressive though. It's almost as vocally impressive as Jay-Z, but not quite there lyrically - then again, I <3 Jay-Z.
"Sunrise" maintains its sound through a chorus singing up and down in the background, and a simple-ish beat. There's some rapping around it and sounds like it's about new shit. Seriously, not getting much out of this. I've seen him live and definitely enjoyed it a lot more than I am this album. Maybe that's why EPs are a better suit for so many of these guys - it's really tough to sit through a themed rap album.
Final song time! "That Power" has more lyrics about growing up. Do kind of love the line: "people want a real man. I made 'em wait this long." Glad we've finally been graced with you presence, sir. There needs to be a defined area between where rappers brag on themselves for an entire song and where they complain about everything and everyone. Anywhos, it ends with a little outro spoken out about leaving camp, sitting next to a girl, not letting camp end. It's actually probably the sweetest part of the entire album - very honest, and pretty nice to hear. That is, until, the bus stops, he leaves, and closes out the story, explaining that he learned something - he told the one girl how he felt, very privately, and she told everyone. He apparently learned that there are no secrets, so he'd just tell everyone everything from then out. Huh, well, the whole damn album makes sense now...
Added to My Playlist:
- "Letter Home"