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Childish Gambino - Because the Internet Album Cover

Childish Gambino - Because the Internet

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8.5
Childish Gambino - Because the Internet
Record Label: Glassnote Records
Release Date: December 10, 2013
When you have talent like Donald Glover's, it becomes fairly difficult to roam the world unnoticed.

From Youtube sketches he wishes people would forget about and writing for 30 Rock, to starring in Community and releasing a universally praised mixtape and debut (unless of course you wrote for Pitchfork), Glover had done it all minus his first stand-up special...and then Comedy Central took care of that in 2010. So where exactly was there for Glover to go next? In a saddening but ultimately curious turn of events, Glover announced his intentions to part ways with the cast of Community in order to focus more intently on creating music under the now almost household name, Childish Gambino. This is roughly the time that Donald Glover fell off the map.

Interestingly enough in conjunction with the "experience" (Glover doesn't believe in albums anymore; in fact, Because the Internet was released with a 25-minute short film as well as a 75-page screenplay- but more on that later), Childish Gambino stuck to a strict regimen during the recording process including waking up early to hit the studio, staying away from social networking sites and not wearing shoes. I could go on about the odd circumstances surrounding the release of Childish Gambino's latest LP, but none of that matters now. What matters is the sheer amount of exponential growth Because the Internet shows in not only style but skill, as well as the way it solidifies Gambino's place among the most interesting figures in hip-hop music today.

As I stated earlier, Because the Internet is meant to be an experience- complete with a short film and screenplay to accompany the music. Does one necessarily need to be so involved in order to enjoy Because the Internet for what it is? No. Will it make the experience better? Maybe. Hell, Father John Misty released a novel with his 2012 debut Fear Fun, and I like to think that some day I'll actually buckle down and take the time to read it. But does the album work well as a stand-alone piece? Absolutely. Honestly, it's hard to pinpoint what's more impressive- the diversity displayed throughout Because the Internet, or the way it never strays to form a cohesive unit. From the aggressive samples that plague tracks like "Crawl" and "Worldstar" to Drake-channeling R&B offerings like "Telegraph Ave." Gambino never seems to stay in one place for too long, all the while staying consistently well-rounded. Gone are the punchline-heavy verses and string sections, in their place a newfound sense of confidence and flow only hinted at on Royalty.

Oftentimes, Glover's words sound calm and composed ("Crawl", "Shadows"), sometimes barely above a whisper while never once losing their sting. Not surprisingly, the release is riddled with references to the internet, starting with a literary rampage during "Crawl" that's concluded with "Elle Varner, got a crush on her/I gotta wait in line for that/Ain't nobody got time for that/Ain't nobody gotta rhyme with that". It's a smart contrast, especially when paired against the dirty beats we find in songs like "No Exit", which finds itself driven by dirty bass, creepy synthesizers and insecurity. A lot of the production choices and styles we face throughout Because the Internet seem to be somewhat inspired by the Odd Future gang, but all the while remaining refreshingly original among one of the strongest years in hip-hop in recent memory. Even throughout the guts and the grime, each glance of sunshine spotted throughout Because the Internet is guaranteed to be played over as some of the record's finest moments; "The Worst Guys" ushers you into a beautiful midsection sequence starting with the subtle and unique vocal stylings of Chance the Rapper. Once album highlight "Shadows" kicks off with Glover's best vocal performance to date, you're strapped in for a ride that rivals even songs from Frank Ocean's Channel Orange. Quick wordplay ("The Aunt Mary and Mary Jane that I was hitting on/To try and make me forget that there was something wrong/Love is Russian roulette, I had the safety on/We popped pills at the Coachella/Hold my head in the weeds, man, I can't tell her/That fear that I feel, man, it might kill her") over the plucking of soft guitars suddenly cuts out, leaving the listener in a still pleasant but slightly unsettling moment that eventually explodes into a swirling descent of emotion oddly matched by album's artwork.

While it stands as one of the most distinctive of the genre you'll hear this year, the record's messy final third does begin to crumble, starting with the ambient "Flight of the Navigator". Glover speaks in a distorted voice overtop more guitar as well as what sounds like a man using his finger to flick his lips up and down- this goes on for approximately five minutes. "Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)" fails to be as innovative as it hopes, and the "experience" soon begins to just feel self-indulgent. Perhaps this uncomfortable conclusion is dependent upon its accompanying screenplay, but while it doesn't necessarily bring down the record as a whole, it will make you appreciate and want to revisit the album's stellar first half. Even when Glover is conquering the misplaced trap beat of "Worldstar", the track eventually elevates into the same kind of mind-bending, acid-jazz instrumental that defined Tyler the Creator's Goblin (specifically "Radicals") for so many people. The four interludes found throughout Because the Internet are really neither here nor there, sometimes foreshadowing upcoming melodies but mostly just there to better "transition" songs with off-putting instrumentals. Luckily, even after a disturbed Glover goes off the deep end during the record's final cuts, he just as easily pulls it all back together in the satisfying conclusion that is "Life: The Biggest Troll". Combining elements seemingly collected throughout Because the Internet, Gambino shows off his development against one of the most easygoing beats on the record, and just when it feels like Glover is making the progress you're constantly wishing for him, Because the Internet closes with a plea for you to help him.

It feels like watching a movie and knowing something the characters don't; is this what separates an album from an experience? Does that feeling the record leaves long after it ends prove to us that Gambino is rising into the ranks of today's independent hip-hop stardom? I was disappointed when Glover dropped the strings from Camp. I thoroughly missed the punchlines throughout Royalty, and when it was confirmed that this album would be titled Because the Internet, I was (unfortunately) close to writing the record off. But none of that matters now, because this longing to press play again has to count for something.

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This review is a user submitted review from Vance Mook. You can see all of Vance Mook's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
08:47 AM on 12/30/13
#2
texan4lif281
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Great review, I was wondering when I was going to see one on here.
10:10 AM on 12/30/13
#3
Vance Mook
Fastest Kid in School
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Great review, I was wondering when I was going to see one on here.

Thanks! I didn't see one go up after the week of release, and I wanted to review it for my blog, so I figured it might be a good one to post (he's gained quite a bit of attention for this record). I just know there's a lot of mixed opinions, so hopefully nobody feels my writing is hyperbolic.
01:40 PM on 12/30/13
#4
texan4lif281
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Thanks! I didn't see one go up after the week of release, and I wanted to review it for my blog, so I figured it might be a good one to post (he's gained quite a bit of attention for this record). I just know there's a lot of mixed opinions, so hopefully nobody feels my writing is hyperbolic.
I don' t think so personally.
12:29 PM on 12/31/13
#5
Zac Djamoos
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Again, nice review Mook. Album dropped off hard for me after a few listens.
03:17 PM on 12/31/13
#6
Vance Mook
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Again, nice review Mook. Album dropped off hard for me after a few listens.

Thanks duder. Yeah, I'm not sure if it will necessarily ever surpass Camp or EP for me, but I think it shows a fantastic amount of progression and does a pretty great job of setting itself apart from previous releases or even other hip-hop artists, really. But hey, that's the beauty of music being subjective, yeah? At least we' don't disagree over Falling in Reverse...

#FIN4LYFE
12:11 PM on 01/01/14
#7
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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Thanks duder. Yeah, I'm not sure if it will necessarily ever surpass Camp or EP for me, but I think it shows a fantastic amount of progression and does a pretty great job of setting itself apart from previous releases or even other hip-hop artists, really. But hey, that's the beauty of music being subjective, yeah? At least we' don't disagree over Falling in Reverse...

#FIN4LYFE

Yeah, I think EP's going to forever be my favorite CG release. But I can't disagree that he does stand out.

#ronnieisluv #ronnieislyfe
10:52 AM on 02/28/14
#8
Vance Mook
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The new album is a headache to me. It doesn't help that he's become a mega pretentious hipster..
...Examples?
12:59 PM on 02/28/14
#9
Vance Mook
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I started following him when he had that 1st EP and the song Freaks and Geeks. His songwriting was clear and he had a personality. The EP as a whole was good, he sounded authentic and genuine.

Camp was meh. Kind of angry.

Not wearing shoes? That's hippie shit, man. Shoes are straight up useful for our feet.

I have seen interviews with him recently and he acts like he's above it all. Like he's transcended culture with his music. In one he was like sitting cross legged for his interview.
EP was great and so was Camp- both classic Glover. I mean, he's attempting to evolve and establish a creative personality; I see nothing wrong with that. The Beatles, Beyonce and Garth Brooks all had to become different people at one point or another in their careers while trying to separate themselves, so why can't Glover do the same to a lesser extreme?

I just don't see how a lack of shoes or his posture during an interview makes him a "mega pretentious hipster" (despite how useful shoes may be...although, who doesn't go barefoot from time to time).
04:20 PM on 03/01/14
SpencerCoronado
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EP was great and so was Camp- both classic Glover. I mean, he's attempting to evolve and establish a creative personality; I see nothing wrong with that. The Beatles, Beyonce and Garth Brooks all had to become different people at one point or another in their careers while trying to separate themselves, so why can't Glover do the same to a lesser extreme?

I just don't see how a lack of shoes or his posture during an interview makes him a "mega pretentious hipster" (despite how useful shoes may be...although, who doesn't go barefoot from time to time).
I guess it's him trying to evolve. But it feels like he's just kind of so hipster and above it all now. I never could dig people like that. Maybe it's just how I perceive him.

Well, I guess I'll link you to the interview I am talking about and you can decide for yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6M0KLPpiKk

He's incoherent and talks pretentiously, in my opinion at least.

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