Childish Gambino has done it again.
Childish Gambino – Donald Glover’s rapper name – has proved time and time again that he’s more than an actor experimenting in music, but rather a rap artist in his own right. Glover began his career as a writer for 30 Rock and then moved on to star in NBC’s critically-acclaimed, cult-hit Community. Glover is also a brilliant comedian; seriously, watch his stand-up Weirdo. However, it’s his music that has been getting much-deserved recognition lately. In 2013, Gambino released studio album Because the Internet, which was widely acclaimed. His recent project, half-mixtape and half-EP, is a continuation of the character and story established in Because the Internet.
Gambino dropped a surprise, free mixtape on October 2nd. The title STN MTN refers to Glover’s hometown Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Much of the mixtape is an homage to Glover’s hometown; specifically, he refers to who he’s become because of Atlanta and other artists who originated there (Usher, Future, O Lyfe). Overall, the mixtape is strong, but not Gambino’s strongest. It relies more on Gambino’s wit and un-filtered style than his actual musical talents. Key track: “U Don’t Have to Call”
The other half of STN MTN is Kauai, named after the Hawaiian island the proceeds of the EP are going towards cleaning. To me, this EP felt much more successful than STN MTN. The storyline was incredibly cohesive and interconnected, and the music’s smoothness created a lush listening experience. The sharp contrast between STN MTN and Kauai was highly intentional. According to Gambino,
“It’s a Gangsta Grillz mixtape that goes into an EP. The Gangsta Grillz mixtape is a dream, and the dream ends when I wake up in Kauai. And they go into each other; it’s one complete project. You can download the mixtape and you can go buy the EP. The money from the EP goes to help keeping Kauai clean.” – quote via http://artisticmanifesto.com/2014/10/03/childish-gambino-stn-mtn-kauai-album-review/
In fact, STN MTN even ends with the line, “and then I woke up.” Kauai is full of soothing, slow-jams. “The Palisades” for one, is perfectly smooth and beachy. “Pop Thieves (Make it Feel Good)” and “Late Night in Kauai” begin with monologues spoken by Jaden Smith, part poetry, part nonsense. Both of these are atmospheric and effective. Still, the EP offers both relaxation and introspection. Even an album set among Hawaii’s sun and sand becomes emotionally complex under Gambino’s direction. “Sober” and “Retro (Rough)” are the most accessible, party-ready tracks of the EP and will definitely be circulating my personal playlists for months. Basically, Gambino is a versatile genius, and it’s time to become a fan if you aren’t already.
STN MTN is available for free download at DatPiff and Kauai can be purchased on iTunes or listened to on Spotify.
Song of the Week: “Sober” by Childish Gambino
– Jenny Henderson