Sometimes, just sometimes, people surprise us. When I heard that Childish Gambino, who I knew of as Troy from Community, would be on the Wu-Tang stage at Rock the Bells, I chuckled. Coincidentally my brother-in-law informed me that Donald Glover got his Childish Gambino monicker by typing his name into the “Wu-Tang your name” app which I thought fitting for the moment. No amount of discussion could prepare me for what was to follow the discussion.
Short shorts all around. Childish and his entire band wore the shortest shorts in the entire venue, women included. I mention it, because Childish’s demeanor, presence, look, etc., all made the audience (other than those who were already fans) wonder what to expect from the spectacle on the Wu-Tang stage late in the afternoon. The show was so good that… that I eagerly awaited the release of Camp to see if I was just caught up in the fun of the moment, or if, in fact, Donald Glover had something to offer the hip hop community.
Camp opens up with Childish Gambino opening up with, in a very uncommon fashion in hip hop, a soul bearing summary of his rise from “the projects” to working on the projects that have earned him acclaim as a writer, actor, and now, as a genuine hip hop artist. “We used to say ‘I love you’/now we only think that shit/it feels weird that you’re the person I took sink baths with” – this is probably the line that stands out the most on the track due to the fact that it uncovers Gambino’s mastery of language. The line is heartfelt, funny, cute and painful, and all at the same time and with equal measures of each emotion. The album moves seamlessly from track to track, in the same fashion that the moving intro, Outside, transitions into the poppy, playful and poignant Firefly.
The entire album is cohesive and carries a very honest tone, while never becoming drab due to the witty wordplay, which tests the boundaries between, “wow, that was clever” and “that’s not right, at all.” Lines like, “Made the beat then murdered it/Casey Anthony” really shock the listener into focusing on everything Gambino has to say. Some of his cleverness borderlines on nerdy as well – “black and white music/now n**** that’s a mixtape”. Whether you agree with the blunt social commentary or not, or enjoy nerding out with him or not, you will be forced to recognize and respect his craft. Gambino crafts cohesiveness in Camp by keeping the listener close, as if telling a story to a long-time friend, a result of the calmness of the album (especially apparent on tracks like All the Shine). Once Childish has the listener’s ear, and respect, he branches out on All the Shine and sings – he sings well, at that.
The rest of the album follows suit, able to appease the appetite of those who appreciate lyricism, catchy pop, hip hop, humor, r&b and the list goes on. Whether writing for sit-coms or writing raps, acting, or working on the production end of hip hop (did I mention that he had a huge hand in the music on the album too?), Donald “Childish Gambino”/Troy Glover is one of the most talented entertainers in prominence right now. Give the album, the entire album, a listen and then make your judgement of the renaissance man on the rise.
Peace and Love,