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Review: Childish Gambino-EP


I was first introduced to Donald Glover through his acting and sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, so I was pleased to see him cast on the NBC hit show Community which also features the likes of Joel McHale and Chevy Chase.

However, I was even more excited to learn about his side project, Childish Gambino.

Granted, I know that I am a little late to be hopping on the band wagon since Glover has been producing, DJing and rapping for years now. However, in March of 2011 he released his EP (which is also titled EP) featuring 5 hard hitting tracks in which this post is dedicated to.

Glover started using the monicker Childish Gambino after finding it on a WuTang Clan name generator, like one you can find here. (Mine is Misunderstood Swami, I dig it.)

At first thought you may roll your eyes at the thought of another actor turned musician, but Glover is equally, if not more,  creative and witty in his music than he is in his comedy and acting. Not to mention that he has been rapping/producing longer than he has been acting, it is just now more on the radar due to his commercial acting success.

The EP starts off with the track Be Alone which starts off with a soft vocal driven sample which then slowly transcends into a seemingly passionate tirade with amazing multisyllabic rhyme schemes and clever lines. The EP then leads into Freaks and Geeks, one of his more well known tracks, which acts as an anthem with fiery flow and heavy drum patterns–it then becomes apparent that the rest of the album will have the same intensity and flavor–and it rings true.

Each song is mixed to perfection with varying drum patterns and great vocal laced samples. The topics vary from relationships, his rapping style, and overcoming obstacles in being a musician as well as an actor. Obstacles such as being taken seriously for his art rather than just being seeing as a novelty–however, after one listen it’s hard not to take him seriously as a rapper.

Glover has a lyrical style that is very much lost in rap/hip hop today. Glover has lyrics that tell a story, convey emotion, and with each rhyme he eloquently portrays a feeling–which is a lot more difficult than just synching together a few lyrics–when listening to these tracks you can feel what he is feeling through his raw lyrics and powerful flow.

With each track comes the same intensity and the same clever (and at times funny) word play.

It’s very hard to categorize Glovers style–it’s been called “backpack rap” which is a monicker used for more lyrically based rap.

The name comes from when music enthusiasts would backpack on subways to see shows and would seek out longer lyrical songs to kill more time and make the ride seem shorter.

However, Glover wants to get past all categories–something he discusses in the song My Shine (shown above), in which he cleverly quips,

“F— nerdcore, F— back pack, F—Rap Cool, I make cool rap.” 

Here, saying he doesn’t want to pigeonhole himself in any category or genre and that he just wants his music to speak for him.

(The cool rap line comes from when Glovers friend told him he is cool, but he isn’t “rap cool”).

Packed with clever  and witty lines, head nodding back beats, and passionate flow Childish Gambino is a heavy hitter in the rap genre.

In a time where rap has devolved into dry looped choruses and empty lyrics–Gambino brings back lyricism, story telling and passion back into the rap scene.

As much as I can praise Glover for his lyricism and production style– it’s best witnessed by plugging in the ole headphones and listening for yourself.

You can download his EP for free from his website: IAmDonald

Download it and appreciate some great lyric driven tracks.

Image courtesy of Stupid Dope.

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