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Music: Childish Gambino

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 of Community 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.

He is not related to actor Danny Glover.

Studio albums
  • Camp (2011)
  • because the internet (2013)

EPs/Mixtapes/Independent albums
  • Sick Boi (2008)
  • Poindexter (2009)
  • I Am Just a Rapper (2010)
  • I Am Just a Rapper 2 (2010)
  • Culdesac (2010)
  • EP (2011)
  • Royalty (2012)
  • STN MTN/Kauai (2014)


Tropes:

  • 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.
  • Alter Ego Acting: Donald Glover, the nerdy Nice Guy; and Childish Gambino, the egotistical hedonist.
  • 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.
  • Angry Black Man: This trope is mocked thoroughly throughout Camp.
  • Anti-Love Song: A lot ("L.E.S.," "Kids," and "Heartbeat" on Camp alone). The man himself says that it's "this fucked up romance thing I'm into."
  • Arc Words: He tends to base his album titles off of these.
    • Variations of "I do not talk, I am just a rapper," appear in songs throughout his demos I Am Just a Rapper and I Am Just a Rapper 2.
    • "Roscoe's wetsuit." It's a meme that just seemed to start from nowhere and exemplifies the impersonal emptiness of memes and referential humor in general.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Rolling in the Deep."
    • 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."
  • Badass Boast: On "Fuck It All", of all songs
    For all you people saying Donald Glover bout to blow
    Just give me 6 months so you can say "I told you so"
  • Big "YES!": The backing vocals in "Freaks and Geeks."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Because the internet.
  • Black and Nerdy: He was bullied for it as a kid, too.
  • Black Comedy: From "Bonfire:" "The shit I'm doing this year? Insanity. Made the beat then murdered it: Casey Anthony."
    • "Freaks and Geeks:" "This beat is a disaster, 9/11 this track."
    • "Backpackers:" I got a girl on my arm, dude, show respect. Something crazy and Asian, Virginia Tech."
  • Boastful Rap: "Freaks and Geeks," "Bonfire," "Sunrise." "Lights Turned On" tells more of a story than most but still arguably qualifies. In fact, a lot of his early work is like this.
    • "ii. WORLDSTAR" appears to be this initially, but is actually about the more sadistic aspects of internet culture. "iv. sweatpants" plays it straight.
  • Book Ends: because the internet opens and closes with a similar sound effect; the intro swoops upward while the ending swoops downward.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In "Yaphet Kotto."
    What's the point? I don't know
    Why am I here? Why am I alive? Why do you care?
    • 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.
  • The Cameo: "Silk Pillow," featuring BECK!
    • Questlove from The Roots plays drums on Camp.
    • 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 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.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "I used to rap about nothing/Now I rap about nothing" from "Silk Pillow."
  • Didn't Think This Through: When he joined Twitter, he found donaldglover was already taken, so he decided to donglover, not realizing what it spelled.
  • 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.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: All of Bino's early work focused on Boastful Raps with plenty of Narm and Painful Rhymes. It wasn't until 2011's Camp that Gambino began finding his voice as a rapper. As of 2013's because the internet, he's got a firm grip on it.
    • For people who found him through because the internet, the fairly straightforward hip-hop of Camp might come as a bit of a surprise.
  • Eleven O'Clock Number: "Earth: The Oldest Computer," the penultimate track on because the internet, is its emotional climax and features multiple Call Backs to earlier songs.
    • A less obvious example with "Sunrise" on Camp.
  • Establishing Character Moment: "Be Alone," the opening track on EP.
  • 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 Depths
  • 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."
  • Hipster: Discussed in "L.E.S." and criticized in "Backpackers."
  • Incoming Ham: "Rolling in the Deep"
    Adele: We could've-
    Gambino: SWAG
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Known to make a few.
    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.
  • Just Friends: A dark example in "Heartbeat."
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma: In his stand-up.
  • Long Title: Appropriately, "The Longest Text Message Ever"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Heartbeat," which has alternately soothing and energetic instrumentation but is lyrically an example of The Masochism Tango.
    • "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.
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch: Really, all of his videos so far (with the exception of "L.E.S." and "3005"):
  • Madness Mantra: "Look at the recluse. Look at the recluse. Look at the recluse" in "No Exit." This is the roughly where the album begins to descend into borderline-Nightmare Fuel territory.
  • The Masochism Tango: "Heartbeat," again.
  • Mind Screw: The "Sweatpants" video.
  • 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: Part of Bino's Signature Style, though it only really came to the forefront in Camp.
    • 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.
  • Race Fetish: Discussed and denied in "You See Me."
  • Rags to Riches: Summed up in "Firefly:"
    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
  • Rearrange the Song: "Lights Turned On" becomes much heavier when performed live.
    • "L.E.S." builds up to a much more intense climax during live performances, usually leading directly into "Letter Home."
    • Bits of "Bronchitis" have appeared in live performances with different music and context.
    • On the Deep Web tour, "Freaks and Geeks," "Firefly," and "Yaphet Kotto" were merged into a single song, and the live version of "Centipede" features his "Pound Cake" verse at the end.
  • Recurring Riff: The melody from "Telegraph Ave." reappears throughout because the internet, most notably on "Zealots of Stockholm" and "Earth: The Oldest Computer."
  • Refrain from Assuming: "The Longest Text Message Ever," "Sunrise," and "Freaks and Geeks."
  • Rhyming with Itself: From "Silk Pillow: "I used to rap about nothing/now I rap about nothing!"
    • From "Yes":
    I like pink, it always looks good on me
    And I like pink, it always looks good on me
    That second part I was talking about vagina, homie
  • Running Gag: His thing for Asian girls. Mostly gone as of because the internet.
    • It's just gotten more subtler. He refers to a "Half-thai Thickie" on "Sweatpants" and says he has to say "Moshi Moshi" when he talks to his girl on the phone on "Worldstar"
  • Sampling: "Worldstar" samples a video from the titular site, as well as The Little Mermaid of all things.
  • Serial Escalation: Camp featured a Motor Mouth verse on exactly one song. because the internet has several, due to Gambino's rapping skills vastly improving.
  • Sesame Street Cred: He was in the February 8, 2013 episode of Sesame Street, playing a pop star named LMNOP.
  • Shout-Out: Expected from someone as Black and Nerdy as Bino is. Shout outs include Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, TRON, Invader Zim, Pokmon, Adventure Time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kurt Vonnegut, internet memes and much, much more. Each one seems to show that Bino's not just throwing references out and that he's a real fan of everything he does shout out.
    • In the Jimmy Kimmel Live version of "Crawl," he sings part of Kanye West's "All Falls Down" during the last chorus.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "All the Shine" and "Letter Home."
    • 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.
    • Done multiple times on because the internet:
  • Signature Style: An almost schizophrenic combination of witty, fast-paced Boastful Rap and Kid Cudi-esque introspection.
  • 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.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: "Fuck you- can I have this dance?" ("L.E.S.")
  • Spoken Word In Music: The Bus speech that concludes the album Camp.
    • 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"
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Famously placed at the end of "Bonfire".
  • 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.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: In "I. The Worst Guys":
    Tia and Tamera in my bed
    I'm a smart guy
    * Undercrank: The sped up sample that recurs throughout "Lights Turned On."
  • Unexpected Character: Tina Fey rapping on "Real Estate".
    • Fellow Community actor Alison Brie has been seen at several concerts as a backing vocalist.
  • Vocal Evolution: On the early, independently-released albums, he affects a croakier, Lil Wayne-esque voice. It wasn't until EP that he began to sound like the Childish Gambino we know today.
  • Worthy Opponent: From "Bonfire:" "You hate me, but you will respect!"


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.
ChamptownAlternative Hip HopChris Webby
Terry GilliamScreenwritersWilliam Goldman
Greg GiraldoRecorded and Stand-Up ComedyBobcat Goldthwait
Swag RapNerdcoreKaiju
Chief KeefMusicians/Hip Hop RapChris Webby
Danny GloverActorsJohn Glover

alternative title(s): Childish Gambino; Donald Glover; Donald Glover
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