Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What You Should Have Heard #82

Childish Gambino – Camp

I’m taking a little break from the weekly Mix CD for a review of an album I bought/downloaded two weeks ago.

It's weird. I bought this album expecting something different. I bought it after hearing "Heartbeat" on Conan, and on first listen it's a funny song. So there's a whole album by Community actor Donald Glover? Well of course the rest of it will be hilarious. I was expecting something similar to Lonely Island. I was extremely wrong. And then I listened to "Heartbeat" more, and it started to sound a little sad and a little mean. Layers, man. Layers.

I can’t identify with much that Glover is singing/rapping about. The awkwardness with girls during childhood, sure, but growing up as a black kid in (what sounds like) predominately white schools and not considered black enough by family and peers? Nope, no identification there. The girls that show up after the fame. Not quite. But I can identify with the passion he shows. His emotion draws me into his world and his lyrics hold me captive.

Glover’s lyrics range from childhood insecurities, incredible nerd references, the pressures of increasing fame and, of course, carnal conquests. It’s all terribly inspired, and some of the best comparisons are so obvious they make you wonder why you haven’t heard them before.

Lyrics - Race

It’s hard to make HOV the footsteps you followin’
Especially when your niggas look like Carlton

What’s the best way to show just how white of a black man you are? Make a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reference and compare your friends to the whitest black guy on the show. Jay-Z he’s not.

This one kid said somethin’ that was really bad
He said I wasn’t really black because I had a dad
I think that’s kinda sad
Mostly ‘cause a lot of blacks kids think they should agree with that

Wow, that’s just…wow.

Lyrics – Nerd

Okay, it’s Childish Gambino, homegirl drop it like the NASDAQ

I’m throwing this out there because it specifically references the NASDAQ instead of the all-encompassing Wall Street. It just stood out to me.

Niggas with OCD, NWO
All white like my clothes, CW shows
Nigga got signed? It’s an anomaly
No co-sign? Trigonometry

Hey, I watch Supernatural on the CW! And yeah, looks like all the “urban” shows of UPN laid to rest when it merged with The WB. There are plenty of magical creatures and over-privileged white kids still there, though, so it’s a great line. And he ends the verse with a play on cosine? My math-loving brain squealed a bit.

I said I want a full house, they said, “You got it, dude”

I cannot look back on this show with any fondness, but I watched enough of it growing up (as well as most of the TGIF line-up) that yeah, I get this.

Lyrics – The Ladies

I’m just making up for fucks I missed in high school

I keep it wrapped until I meet the right one
‘Cause I ain’t Mumford, I ain’t tryin’ to have sons

Throwin’ a Mumford & Sons reference out there when talking about using a condom? Really, how much of a whiter reference can you make?

Sixty-nine is the only dinner for two

I’m going straight for your thighs like the cake you ate

She ain’t a killer but she’d fuckin’ blow your head off

Are we datin’? Are we fuckin’?
Are we best friends? Are we some’n in between that?
I wish we never fucked, and I mean that
(But not really
You say the nastiest shit in bed and it’s fuckin’ awesome)

She’s an overachiever ‘cause all she do is succeed

Say this one slowly, maybe separate the syllables in the last word, then you might get it.

Lyrics – Dated

Made the beat then murdered it, Casey Anthony

Part of the problem with including pop culture in your lyrics is how dated your music will be. How long will Casey Anthony be talked about before some other reject from Jerry Springer/Maury Povich/Jeremy Kyle kills a kid and tries to convince us all that it wasn’t her fault?

All I wanted was some more like Ashton

Yeah, they separated about a week after the CD came out.

I give you money, then you Bernie, then you made off

But it’s Pete Wentz, goes both ways

Lyrics – Revealing

I always wanted to get picked on the cool team
But alone is exactly how I should be

Some of these lines just pop up in the songs, and they kind of hurt. These are the ones that I can relate to. Then there’s “Letter Home”:

You’re the only girl that I have ever wanted
Every other girl who’s tryin’ to be you
My momma says that I should write you letters
But I think you’re with other dudes

Take my hand
You’ll like it
You don’t even have to call
Yes, I’ve had some alcohol, I’m sorry

Take my hand
You don’t even have to call
You’re somewhere out there after all

You’re all I ever wanted
You’re all I ever wanted
You’re all I ever wanted

The one that got away. I’ve said it before, we all have one, whether we want to admit it or not. The one we think about when we’re arguing with our significant other, the one whose grass will always look greener. I dread the day I make that inevitable drunk dial, when I’m so deep in my head that I can’t escape the choices I’ve made. For now, though, I just write about it.

The album ends with a story that ties everything together nicely. You can even imagine it with a bow on top. Childhood, girls, awkwardness, intelligence…nothing about race, but that makes it better, like anybody can listen to the whole album and come away feeling like this was made for them.

I admit that I don’t have a lot of rap experience. I like very little of it, and I think most of what I like might be considered hip hoprather than rap (although when I read that link I found out it's just TYPES of rap I don't like, and that makes me feel better. There are types of rock, pop, jazz, classical, etc. music that I don't like, too). I like a bit of The Roots, a bit of Wu-Tang, a bit of Dr. Dre and a bit more of Eminem. Throw in some Handsome Boy Modeling School, some DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and some various old-school tracks and I’ve got a mix I can listen to if not totally understand. I like to consider myself very open when it comes to music. My rap (and country, if I’m to be honest) interests would actually show that I’m not as open or inclusive with my listening choices as I’d like you to believe. So when I hear something like this, something that I can thoroughly enjoy and halfway relate to, I eat it up.

I just found out that Childish Gambino’s earlier albums were available as free downloads, and I’ve tracked them all down. I seriously can’t wait to listen to everything I’ve missed.

And yes, Donald, I still haven’t got off the bus, either.

Childish Gambino/Donald Glover’s Official Site
Childish Gambino/Donald Glover’s Facebook page

Also, in case you've forgotten: When I can remember to add this to the bottom of my posts, I’m going to whore myself out with an impassioned plea: click on the ads. PLEASE click on the ads. I don’t care if you exit out of it immediately or actually look around. This isn’t some professional blog where I believe in the products I’m shilling. These are automatic ads placed by Google. But when you click ads, I get a little bit of money, and as a single father of three, every penny from every source helps...especially with Christmas looming on the horizon. So I’m going to keep this tiny bit of begging at the bottom of my posts, and I hope you’ll take an extra 10 seconds after reading my blog to click on an ad. The only thing it costs you is time. :) Thanks so much!

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