The music bloggers are all excited about hippity-hopper Childish Gambino and the general consensus seems to be that he just “came out of nowhere.” Strange to me, because he is a well known actor on the hit NBC comedy Community. Sure, he goes by the name Donald Glover, but it’s not like this is all a secret. In his lyrics he talks about having a TV show and writing for 30 Rock when he was under 25. And Donald Glover is not a bit player on the show, he’s consistently the most charming and funny reason to watch Community.So what, he’s a rapper now. But here’s the thing: his rhymes are tight! Those same mad skills he uses writing and acting for NBC come out in the lyrics. It’s unapologetically middle class,with subjects like sex, race and hipster girls making frequent appearances. I’m not wild about his vocal style–it’s very fast, with a nervous energy. But the pop culture references keep me coming back. I was hooked first on the Jamie XX remix of Adele, where his “Freaks and Geeks is sampled, and he says, “Fuck Macaulay Culkin, I’m never going home alone.” All his songs have lines like that, ones that will jump out at you and make you smile for their clever turn of phrase.
Adele – Rolling in the Deep feat. Childish Gambino.mp3
Here’s the original track that Jamie of The XX samples above
Childish Gambino – Freaks and Geeks
The production on his mixtape isn’t top notch but you can certainly hear the promise. My favorite track from the mixtape has little to do with the lyrics and all to do with his choice to rap over Sleigh Bells. The gent has taste I tell you. Just the same it still has choice lyrics like “Only time I’m worried is when I’m the no-fly zone, ‘Cause I’m so fly…”
Childish Gambino – New Prince (Sleigh Bells – Crown On the Ground).mp3
Here’s a pretty one that shows he can sing
Childish Gambino – These Girls (ft. Garfunkel and Oates).mp3
Because of the low production values on his mixtape and the fact that he raps over low BPM indie rock half the time, I prefer remixes. Like I said, it’s about the rhymes not the beats anyway. Here’s two preferred remixes of “Let Me Dope You.” I especially like the first because that Body Language song (“You Can”) is another of my recent obsessions. The stand-out lyric for me is “I don’t fit in like–my penis in these tiny girls.” Tight indeed.
Childish Gambino – Let Me Dope You (Cheap Thrills Remix Feat. Body Language).mp3
Finally I can’t leave you without a little sample of some of his work on Community. So adorable!