’Childish Gambino – telegraph ave.’
’Childish Gambino – 3005’
’Childish Gambino – Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night) (feat. Azealia Banks)’

The actor-turned-rapper route is not unfamiliar territory for rising star Donald Glover. The stand-up comedian dropped an introduction to the inner workings of his creative mind and skills on the mic with the moderately successful Camp in 2011. Mixing together sounds of dubstep, dance, electronica, and pop, fans witnessed another side of the rising star under his alias of Childish Gambino. Although not album of the year material, the first effort from Gambino was filled with plenty of innovative sounds and autobiographical tracks that painted an extensive narrative of what makes Glover the artist he is. With his sophomore release Because the internet, Gambino continues his introspective saga and delves deeper into his fears of loneliness over colorful production with comedic delivery.

After the lackluster reception of his ROYALTY tape last year, Gambino parted ways from the hit NBC show Community to focus on his sophomore release. The unveiling of his short film, Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, and an accompanying screenplay only further provided fans with insight into the developing theme of the project, while steadily building anticipation as well. The end result became a conjunct LP separated into five distinct musical suites (recognized by the different roman numerals between the interludes) that reflect the multiple moods and, ironically, the multiple career paths of the artist.

The first half of the album finds Gambino at his most potent as an emcee. Adding to addictive lead singles, “WORLDSTAR”, “Telegraph Ave”, “3005”, and “Sweatpants,” are the Thunder Cat produced “Shadows” and laidback tune “The Worst Guys” featuring Chance the Rapper, which reflect his growing lyrical skill aptitude, while sustaining the recurring theme around his fear of being left alone.

Following the aggressive opening to the project, the album slowly progresses into a darker, more melancholic tone as more R&B, jazz, and rock influences are introduced. Thanks to the airy, The Weeknd-esque production of Ludwig Göransson, contrasting tracks “Party” and “No Exit” make an attempt to reflect the dark and light elements of Gambino’s character. The bass heavy rhythms of “Party” portray him more as a drug-induced party host that cares less about the random people invading his home, until the very end of the track. Subsequent number “No Exit” is more of an inner-monologue from the “day after” period, with Gambino still battling anxieties of isolation and abandonment.The pervasive aspect of these two tracks is the production that segways smoothly into the last suite of the album.

Slowing down the momentum, the closing portion of Because of the internet is the most personal and pensive part of the album. This act plays with different experimental elements, as a medley of R&B, jazz, and synth beats flood your ears. The looping guitar beat and airy melody of “Flight of the Navigator” fit perfectly with the poetic words of losing a loved one. “Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)” and “Urn”, continue the moody, dark rhythms but carefully transitions Gambino into a true vocalist, as opposed to the fast-spitting rapper we’ve grown accustomed to. The closing tracks lighten the mood and finish the LP on a slightly more positive note. Stopping you from completely ODing on musical depression is the Azealia Banks-assisted  “Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night),” which is clearly aimed for the dance floors, while the latter “Life: The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer)” is a classic hip-hop track that ends in an unexpected fashion.

Because the internet is completely conceptual in its mechanism regarding experimental sonic qualities and unique lyrics. From pure hip-hop to R&B, rock, and electronica, this album ironically depicts Donald Glover’s complete career transition from an actor to a musician. Opening with the line “Who Am I?” could not have been more appropriate for the metaphorical work that explores the motif of finding oneself. Is he an actor? A party starter? A lover? Or just a plain recluse? Although not without its flaws in lyricism and progression of sound, I am still curious to hear more from the talented emcee, and this LP is his best work to date.

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