Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, (Born on September 25, 1983) is an alternative hip hop musician who hit it big with his 2011 album Camp. His career's Older Than They Think, having been releasing music (for free!) since 2002. In 2010, his successful acting career brought in a wave ofCommunity fans, propelling him into widespread popularity (and his appearance on Jamie xx's remix of Rolling in the Deep didn't hurt.) The name Childish Gambino comes from Glover putting his name into the Wu-Tang Name Generator. He also wrote for 30 Rock and does stand-up comedy.Studio albums
Album Title Drop: Camp gets title dropped in "Bonfire," "Firefly," and "That Power."
Because the Internet gets title dropped in "III. telegraph ave." ("Two dates and he still wanna get it in / And you're saying it's because of the Internet / Try once and it's on to the next chick") and in "III. life: the greatest troll [andrew auernheimer]" ("Because the internet, mistakes are forever / But if we fuck up on this journey, at least we're together") — both lines accurately summing up the concept behind the album.
all lowercase letters: because the internet as well as all the song titles on the album are officially in all lowercase, though people often use regular case rules when discussing them.
All There in the Manual: Many details of because the internet are fleshed out both in the accompanying screenplay and through parts of Gambino's website. For example, the chorus of "I. the worst guys" is actually "All she needed was some dick;" and the instrumental "Death by Numbers" is the score to The Boy's drug overdose scene.
In concert, the audience supplies the line "that ain't ironic, bitch, I love Rugrats!" from "L.E.S.," and the title lyric from "Freaks and Geeks."
The "words that I made up" hook on "Do Ya Like."
The titular chant from "II. WORLDSTAR" has become one, with some fans chanting it between songs at concerts.
The "GO HOME, ROGER!" sample in "The Worst Guys."
The choruses of "Crawl" and "3005."
The "woo!" sample during the second section of "Zealots of Stockholm."
Author Avatar: Sort of. For each of his major studio releases so far, he's assumed the perspective of a character who generally represents certain aspects of his personality. The protagonist of Camp is based on himself in his early teens and is explicitly referred to as Donald, but it's a bit more complicated on because the internet, in which the narrator has a backstory unconnected to Gambino's, but does seem to represent the darker, more nihilistic side of his personality. Several times on the album the line between Donald/Gambino and The Boy is blurred ("Sweatpants," "Urn") and "Life: The Biggest Troll" is credited as 'featuring Donald Glover' on the physical copy of the album, and to make things more complicated he switches between Gambino and Glover throughout the track.
Autotune: A rare aversion in the hip-hop world; when he sings, that's his actual voice. Gambino has used some Autotune for stylistic effect on some of his earlier, pre-EP stuff, like "The Awesome."
The video for "iv. sweatpants". Just like in the song proper, Gambino pauses the song after the line, "ain't nobody badder in my Fisker, vroom vroom, no", to remind the audience that Fisker was an electric car manufacturer and their vehicles can't actually make revving noises.
Brutal Honesty: His date in "life: the biggest troll." She even interrupts him- you can hear him starting to go off on a Boastful Rap tangent in the background before suddenly being cut off by the next line.
She said, "you need to grow up, you been doing this for too long
That camp was a million years ago, sing me a different song."
Call Back: The opening yell from "Backpackers" is sampled in the background of "That Power."
The script for because the internet that was posted online starts directly after "That Power" ends. "That Power" ends with the lines, "I wish I could say this was a story about how I got on the bus a boy and got off a man more cynical, hardened, and mature and shit. But that’s not true. The truth is I got on the bus a boy. And I never got off the bus. I still haven’t." while the screenplay begins with the text, "You can't live your life on a bus..."
"earth: the oldest computer (the last night)" is filled with references to previous songs:
The hook loosely reprises the melody of "telegraph ave."
The closing lines are also rapped in the same manner as the chorus of "You See Me"
The backing vocals in the outro are sampled from "So Fly."
The lyrics reference the concept of being 'destined,' first brought up in "That Power."
The chord progression is nearly identical to that of "The Last."
The video for "Sweatpants" features one of the Gambinos wearing the red hoodie he did in the "Freaks and Geeks" video.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and actress Kristen Schaal (recognizable as Hazel Wassername from 30 Rock) narrate the intro to Royalty.
Cerebus Syndrome: His more recent (and more well-known) work delves into topics such as racial identity, sexual paranoia, existentialism, and suicide.
Concept Album: Camp: A somewhat autobiographical account of Gambino's difficult childhood ("Outside"), his rise to fame ("Fire Fly"), the narcissism ("Bonfire") and self-loathing ("All the Shine") that accompany it, his difficulty having actual relationships now that he's successful ("Heartbeat," "L.E.S.," "Kids"), and finally facing his problems ("That Power"). There's also the recurring theme of summer camp throughout the album, particularly evident in many of the song titles ("Backpackers," "Letter Home," "Bonfire," "Kids," etc.)
because the internet centers around social media's role in tightening relationships between people, but not necessarily for the best reasons. The album came with its own screenplay which concludes the Bus narrative from the end of Camp's "That Power", then fast-forwarding 15 years later to show the same boy (referred to as "The Boy") filling his parentless void by trolling internet celebrities and throwing mansion parties ŕ la The Great Gatsby. He eventually becomes manically depressed and attempts suicide. After waking from a coma, he learns that his father has died and no longer has any income. He attempts to sell drugs with his friends but gets caught quickly because of how sloppily he handles his business. Police arrive at the mansion shortly after The Boy is kidnapped by rival drug dealers; a firefight ensues and it is insinuated that The Boy is shot.
Gambino has said that each album also represents a certain period of his life- Camp is his early teens and because the internet is his late teens and early twenties. The next album is supposed to be a progression from there to the present day.
Cover Version: "Rolling in the Deep"... sort of. It was originally a remix of Adele's original on which Gambino had a guest verse, which became so popular among fans that it was regularly performed live as a straight-up cover (with John Legend singing Adele's part) that concluded with Gambino rapping his verse from the remix.
"Break (All of the Lights)" features a beat that mostly replaces the original's blaring horns with a guitar, piano and cello.
He did a gorgeous cover of PM Dawn's "I'd Die Without You."
Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangster: "Pink Toes" is about The Boy becoming a drug dealer and making a lot of money. However it ends with the line "I'm out of time" accompanied by siren noises, so presumably he didn't enjoy that life for long.
Darker and Edgier: because the internet is a pretty grim album, compared to anything he's done before.
Darkest Hour: "Bronchitis" is easily the darkest part of Royalty.
"I. Flight of the Navigator"/"II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information")/"III. Urn" on because the internet.
Diegetic Switch: "III. telegraph ave." begins with Gambino in his car listening to radio station Power 106 as the (in real life, fictitious) song "Oakland" by Lloyd starts playing. Gambino begins humming along and eventually sings overtop of the track as the chorus drops.
Driven to Suicide: He fantasizes about it in "Fuck it All," and dismisses it (at least for the time being) in "Bronchitis." The Boy in because the internet attempts it at the end of "II. no exit." It doesn't take.
Early-Bird Cameo: The instrumental versions of "II. no exit" and "I. Flight of the Navigator" appear in the short film Clapping for the Wrong Reasons. Additionally, the middle section of "II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)" premiered at the end of the "3005" video.
Foreshadowing: When he said "there's levels to this shit like a wedding cake" on "Yaphet Kotto," he wasn't lying. It describes the shooting that triggers The Boy's existential crisis in the because the internet script, and the short promo video that accompanied it is actually the script's final scene.
On his stand-up special Weirdo, he talks about his love of "weird music," which became apparent nearly two years later on because the internet.
Fun with Acronyms: Singer, Writer, Actor, Gambino. (alternately, Sex With Asian Girls.)
"Groundhog Day" Loop: A recurring theme throughout Because the Internet. The "Sweatpants" video is a particularly clear example.
Hidden Track: Video version. The "3005" video contains a hidden music video for the middle section of "Zealots of Stockholm" at the end, and "Sweatpants" does the same for "Urn." Based on this pattern, the next BTI music video will probably feature one for "Flight of the Navigator."
from "3005": "I have no patience, 'cause I'm not a doctor."
Indecipherable Lyrics: Most lyrics websites list "Death by Numbers" as an instrumental, because whatever he's singing has been so thoroughly distorted and filtered that it's impossible to decipher. The respective climaxes of "Shadows" and "The Worst Guys" also qualify.
Instant Mystery, Just Delete Scene: because the internet's screenplay features a box on page 41 that simply says, "secret track coming soon," with instructions to stop reading and listen to the entire song before continuing. As of December 14 2013, it's still not uploaded.
"L.E.S." is the opposite. Lyrically, it's an offbeat love song to a hipster girl with only a few lines in the verses indicating anything more serious or depressing (though the bridge makes it more obvious), but the melancholy (and, in the choruses, ominous) instrumental part changes the tone of the song completely.
"You See Me" is a heavy, grinding track with distorted vocals... and probably the funniest song on Camp.
Misogyny Song: Subverted by "Kids," which is a downtempo ballad that starts out like this, but quickly falls apart and reveals that he's really more depressed about his inability to form any sort of healthy relationship with women than anything.
In an interview, he said that his one regret about Camp was that he thought he came off as sexist.
Mondegreen: In "All the Shine", the line "Baby, I'm on the edge" is also interpreted as "Baby, I'm okay" on some lyrics websites. According to one site, he even performs it as "Baby, I'm okay" sometimes.
Album-wise, Camp uses this several times, probably most effectively by cutting straight from the uptempo, hedonistic "Bonfire" to the bleak Tear Jerker "All the Shine."
"Hold You Down" follows "L.E.S.," and it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel.
On because the internet, the sad and melancholy song "Urn" is immediately followed by "Pink Toes", probably one of the most upbeat tracks on the album.
Nerdcore: Was called this a lot at the beginning of his career due to the humor in his lyrics, his lack of 'street cred', and the fact that he was far more famous as a comedy writer (30 Rock) and actor (Community) than as a musician. This label hasn't really been brought up since EP and Camp, the two of which made it obvious that there was more to him than geeky references.
New Sound Album: because the internet. It's hard to place it in a single genre.
Nice Guy: Parodied on "My Girls:" "They don't like me 'cause I'm too nice! ...also I'm kinda fat."
No, Except Yes: "Kissing in the bathroom, girl/I hope nobody catch us.../but I kinda hope they catch us." ("L.E.S.")
And from "Be Alone," "I don't fuck with fake bitches, except for when I fuck with fake bitches."
And the final lines of "Heartbeat:" "Are we dating?/Are we fucking?/Are we best friends?/Are we something/in between that?/I wish we never fucked and I mean that! (…but not really. You say the nastiest shit in bed and I love it.)"
N-Word Privileges: In "Backpackers" he sarcastically refers to himself as "the only white rapper who's allowed to say the n-word."
The Oner: The video for "v. 3005" is edited to appear like one. It features a depressed-looking Bino riding a ferris wheel with a slowly-decaying teddy bear. Eventually the camera pans away from him to reveal that the rest of the carnival is on fire.
"iv. sweatpants" is also edited to appear as one take. Gambino walks into a diner, has his water glass filled and cues up a tune on the jukebox before walking outside to check his phone. Walking back in the same door, he ends up on the other side of the restaurant and repeats his actions. On each loop, more and more people suddenly bear his likeness.
Piss Take Rap: The hardcore Southern rap song "Real Estate" ends with a verse from Tina Fey.
Post Modern: He's extremely aware of rap cliches and tropes, and much of his appeal comes from how he toys with them.
Even dudes who like me straight lookin' at me crazy Like, "how the hell he drop a EP and meet Jay-Z?" Girls used to tell me I ain't cool enough Now text me pics sayin', "You could tear this up" I don't really like shades, big rims, or jewelry But gettin' time of day from a model is new to me
A more subtle example- "That Power" (the final track of Camp) leads almost flawlessly in "Outside" (the first track) both musically and thematically, which one would only notice with the album on loop or by deliberately playing the two next to each other.
Single Stanza Song: "Freaks and Geeks" and "Hero" (along with most of his other early, more freestyle-based songs). "Bonfire" at first seems like it's going to avert this trope, but the part that seems like it would be the chorus ("it's a bonfire/turn the lights out/I'm burning everything you motherfuckers talk about") only shows up once in the song.
because the internet includes small sections of spoken vocals, as well as samples from Youtube and World Star Hip Hop videos.
"centipede" features a nearly two minute passage excerpted from the documentary Behind the Lava Lamp.
Surreal Music Video: The video for "3005" is just Gambino on a Ferris wheel with an increasingly mutilated sentient teddy bear. The video for "Sweatpants" starts out fairly mundane, with Gambino in a diner sitting down at a booth, then walking out. When he walks back in, the faces of all of the guests are replaced with his.
Take That: "Backpackers," "Fuck Your Blog," "The Longest Text Message"
Time Skip: Between "Outside" and "Firefly," and possibly between "Firefly" and "Bonfire."
In-universe, fifteen years passes between the storylines of Camp and because the internet.