Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, 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 2005. 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. Though originally dismissed due to being a comedic actor, Camp and because the internet have solidified Gambino as a rapper with serious chops.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 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.
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.
Book Ends: because the internet opens and closes with a similar sound effect; the intro swoops upward while the ending swoops downward.
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" reprises the melody of "telegraph ave."
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and actress Kristen Schaal (recognizable as Hazel Wassername from 30 Rock) narrate the intro to Royalty.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Doing It for the Art: All of his releases so far except for his studio album debut Camp have been released for free.
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.
from "3005": "I have no patience, 'cause I'm not a doctor."
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.
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.
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.
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," due to his mixed heritage.
Old Shame: He doesn't seem to be very proud of his earliest works, saying that he was hiding behind gimmicks on Sick Boi and Poindexter, and that the even earlier (and rarer) album The Younger I Get was "decrepit Drake."
One of Us: He recorded an album based on the internet, invoking memes throughout. But if that wasn't enough...
His latest Star Wars reference is, "She on my back about it (C3PO, C3PO, C3PO)"
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.