Since Kanye went mega-ego-popstar a few albums back, rap has been without a crown prince of the geek persuasion (I’m not counting Lupe Fiasco). Almost out of nowhere, Childish Gambino has arrived. Gambino a.k.a Cheezy is the stage name of American comic actor (and star of the brilliant sitcom Community, which I’m going to keep recommending ‘til everyone is watching it) Donald Glover, who’s been plugging away with his hip-hop side project since 2008, giving away all his music for free from his blog, an admiable decision for someone without a a huge amount of fame of money to fall back on.
Whilst his earlier albums Sick Boi and Poindexter often veer into Lil Wayne-lite parody (Glover has also dismissed his earlier work as that of “a decrepit Drake”), his more recent work, such as the I Am Just A Rapper mixtapes, Culdesac album and his untitled EP have all gained cult classic status with a quickly growing fanbase. Gambino’s tracks are often littered with hilarious one-liners, showing just how talented he is at comedy, delivered at 100 mph, backed by some rather slick beats. For example, choice hilarious lines include “You can’t go H.A.M, you’s a Jewish nigga”, “Is it too soon for Japanese girls to tsunami?” and “I’m heading West like I’m fuckin’ blowin’ Kanye”, and they’re just from Break (AOTL), a reworking of Kanye West’s All Of The Lights. Of course, typical hip-hop bragadoccio is there (“An elephant never forgets, so my dick remembers everything” and “My dick is too big, it’s a big bang theory” popping up in Freaks & Geeks alone), but more often than not, Glover bears his soul lyrically, stating on My Shine “in fact, I swear the track I lie on’s my last track”.
He also has a damn good singing voice, as evidenced on My Shine, Be Alone, and the fierce Lights Turned On. Switching between family matters, bullying, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, relationship troubles, homophobic taunts and sex (boy, is there a lot of sex), Glover’s song topics make a very refreshing change from the stock hip-hop idea of being in the club. Currently, Glover is working on his fourth as-yet-untitled LP, due in September. I’d suggest now is a perfect to time to hop on this bandwagon.
- The entire Untitled EP
- New Prince (Crown On The Ground) (from the I AM JUST A RAPPER mixtape)
- Break (AOTL)
- Jamie xx’s Rolling In The Deep remix, featuring Childish Gambino
All of Childish Gambino’s music is free to download from his blog, IAMDONALD