There is something about these two that entertains me. The music is generally good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as if they’re constantly dropping 10/10 material. However, they exist beyond the music, and it’s utterly ridiculous imagery like this that enamours the duo to me.
In a generous spirit, Erick of the Zombies let loose this collection of nine unreleased tracks from 2012 sessions, possibly around the time of the recording/release of the breakout D.R.U.G.S. mixtape, in what appears to be a very popular release. Whilst it’s all offered as one long mix (much to the detriment of us iTunes librarians!), the feedback is convicing enough to give it a go anyway- the Childish Gambino feature on one of the tracks doesn’t hurt either. Check the whole thing out below, and look out for more from the Zombies soon.
Everyone has relatively obscure songs that they remember from their childhood. When it comes to them, A) you expect no-one else in your generation knows or remembers them, and B) you’re fiercly protective of them and won’t accept sub-standard covers or remixes. The P.M. Dawn original is a masterpiece in my world (because my mother listened to it religiously, essentially burning it onto my brain), and hence seeing that Gambino covered it last week not only drew surprise, but also a heavy serving of caution.
Thankfully, it’s actually good. Not only can I appreciate his choice of something 20+ years old, and with personal value to me (the latter is clearly why he picked it), but his execution is strong. Of course, he’s not going to perfectly recreate the smooth, gentle emotion of the original in such a setting, but he gives it a very admirable effort.
The vocal work is really likeable, and given that most of his radio performances are rap-oriented, it’s good to hear him exclusively sing on this one, and do so in a manner that doesn’t seem too far at all from his studio work. There’s enough rawness here to keep it true to the original, whilst the variety in his performance demonstrates his ability with a few difficult notes, and will definitely win over some of the more mainstream heads. A worthy cover of a legendary original, and I’d be keen to see if he offers up a studio version at some point.
Every track that lands from Childish Gambino’s upcoming because the internet suggests we’re in for a late album of the year contender. He seems to really have settled his sound down a lot (just listen to the variance between Camp and Royalty), going for a sound akin to the former, but with much improved lyrical and vocal work- you sensed that he felt obliged to deliver something “harder” around the time of Royalty, and hence it’s nice to see him shed that pressure and get on with making good music that suits his skills.
There’s something about this track that has a So Far Gone vibe about it, and that’s definitely not a bad thing at this time of year. The production is a fantastic combination of atmospheric synths, thunderous bass and light, airy melodies, creating an easygoing vibe yet one with enough intensity to stop it becoming too laidback. That classic versatility is on show too, as Gambino moves from gentle, distorted vocals on the hook to a hybrid delivery on the verses, and throws in a rapped verse towards the end- such is the difference between the cadence and softness of the two styles, it almost feels as though he’s a ‘guest’ on his own track. It’s really just an excellent all-rounder that will most definitely be a favourite with CG fans. Free download, including the uptempo Ta-Ku remix below, available here.
Because the Internet is rumoured to land on 10th December, and though this track was only released as part of a tweet to Jhene Aiko (who, contrary to semi-accepted belief, is not romantically involved with Gambino), it’s probably fair to accept it’ll land on the album given that it’s potentially only a month away.
Compared to recent releases (and arguably anything since Camp), it’s much lighter and soulful in nature, featuring Gambino exclusively singing throughout over a melancholy production. A lot of the longtime Gambino fans will be quite pleased to hear this, as it’s much closer to his early work and a departure from the harsher style Royalty came with (and arguably didn’t really succeed with). The production begins with sombre piano notes, before involving a strong percussion line and a little more melody to thicken up the backdrop, and eventually throwing forth a synth-driven, comparatively cacophonous final third. It’s good progression throughout, and despite that last third being far livelier than the first third, it still maintains an air of reflectiveness, which matches up to the desperate, lonely vocals that Gambino delivers throughout. There isn’t much variety vocally, as it’s essentially just Gambino crooning out a hook and a couple of adlibs, but that simplicity works quite well here in synergising with the production to create an atmospheric, introspective vibe, and deliver what is a fairly likeable effort.
Having enjoyed this song on its release, it’s good to see Jhene give the fun single a further push with this easygoing, simple visual that pays homage to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Bed Ins For Peace’.
A gentle, relaxing track of this nature doesn’t need too much complexity to be fully utilised visually, and they’ve got it just right here with a laidback video but with enough subtly happening to keep your interest. The parallels with the Lennon/Ono events are pretty clear, with the inclusion of not only the “media”, but also the little slogans above their heads on the hotel window- it’s a fun throwback concept, but clearly done in a more modern way that doesn’t make it feel overly outdated. The mostly-white colour palette throughout adds further calm to each scene, whilst also enhancing the more ‘innocent’ aspects of the song and much like the production, almost hiding some of Jhene’s more risque lyrical sections.
There are some neat touches and subtleties with the duo’s body language and expressions, with Gambino remaining almost completely serious throughout, whilst Jhene is much more animated and friendly, clearly giving her the video’s focus and a sense of power in the relationship. The occasional shared glances and light-hearted moments make for quite fun watching too- look out for Gambino miming Jhene’s vocals at around 4:20. Worth a watch and obviously worth a listen (I have developed an unhealthy fixation with her voice).
Assumedly, this is the latest release from his upcoming Because the Internet album, and it’s one longtime Gambino fans should quite enjoy.
The production has an interesting rawness to it- the melody for the first third is almost (this isn’t meant negatively) amateurish in nature, and creates a throwback vibe. The beat’s progression to a more lavish style for the hook ends up being a clever contrast (see, I went somewhere with the amateur thing), and makes Gambino’s vocals on that chorus far more impactful by completely filling out the soundscape with crisp percussion and airy synths.
The lyricism is introspective, as much of his more recent work has been, and has Gambino again demonstrating an in-depth self-awareness that often flirts with sadness and depression, and has a nice structuring: as the verses continue down a downbeat route, they pick up toward the end as he recalls the lady of his affections, seguing into the relationship-focused hook. It may seem like obvious structuring, but a quick listen to 90% of mainstream hip-hop tracks will reveal verses that have almost no tie-back to the hook that anchors them, and hence that lyrical juxtaposition is a subtle and welcomed touch. Throw that all in with Childish heading back to a sung hook, and it’s a good all-rounder that should keep fans satiated for the meantime.
It’s been a couple of years in the making now, but it looks like the follow-up to Camp could be on its way. Because the Internet (yep) is coming this ‘winter break’, which I believe loosely translates to the Christmas holidays for us folk, and assuming it’s an LP rather than a mixtape, it’ll make for very interesting listening given Gambino’s decision to scale back on acting and concentrate more on his music.
This track was originally released in a shortened form as part of the video trailer that accompanies this post, but was unveiled in its entireity around 30 minutes ago. It’s a very enjoyable piece, boasting a vintage-influenced production built on Hendrix-era guitar work, a mixture of synths and vocal samples, and a rolling percussion set that bundles through the track well, switching up and down dynamically through the track’s middle portion for a touch of unpredictability. Gambino’s output pretty much runs through his entire arsenal, opening with sharply delivered lyrics that pack a sense of frustration at being labelled a poor rapper, before moving down into a dulcet tone that offers a little reflectiveness, and heading back into a mixture of the opening third’s rap style and a touch of breathy singing. It’s a really likeable production, and an intense, dynamic performance from Gambino that makes the track seem far shorter than it is. Worth a go, and a good opening release ahead of that album run. Track download available below (or, at least it was when I posted this!).
Several images of the two working together surfaced in recent weeks, and one of the products from those sessions has emerged, as the first single from Jhene’s upcoming Sail Out EP.
Laidback doesn’t even begin to describe this one. Opening with gentle guitar strums (that remind me of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, the name of which has eluded me), Jhene enters the fray with her ever-relaxing vocals, with that delivery actually masking what are quite brash, honest lyrics from start to finish. It’s almost surprising just how smoothly her soft voice can cover some of the forthcoming lyricism, from encouraging the object of her affections to get wasted instead of working and to indulge in some adultery, and credit to Jhene for that deceptive delicateness- it’s clearly an intentional feature, making the lyricism sound ‘acceptable’, and hence convincing her male company of the very same thing. Gambino’s appearance is enjoyable, as he tones down the cadence to deliver a sombre yet satisfied performance, which smartly comes off as rather more conversational and responsive than as an isolated verse in the middle of a gentle Jhene song. It’s a good adjustment that makes the guest verse entirely seamless in the context of the track, and this is a very good start ahead of an anticipated EP.
There’s plenty of messaging and implication packed into a video of such a length, but I’ll try and keep it brief. Essentially, this is a look at both Donald’s daily life and the working process, taking place side-by-side within a rather luxurious mansion surrounded by friends, colleagues (cameos from Flying Lotus, Chance the Rapper, Trindad James, Ludwig Goransson and more) and hangers-on. The latter in particular is a recurring theme, with one female who appears to have a vested interest in Donald’s day-to-day actions without him ever actually knowing who she is-the role seems to symbolise both a guardian angel and the notion of constant distraction, with the woman’s every action usually stopping whatever action he’s doing, and transitioning into another scene soon afterwards.
The other poignant visual is the gold teeth pulled through his nose, which is a difficult one to break down in terms of metaphor, but it came across as a possible shedding or removal of excess and portraying a lavish image- after that scene, there’s no more exuberance or playing around with models. Rather, he retreats to a more reserved, primal state, and almost ‘presses the reset button’, before the video ends by quite literally doing that. It’s one that you might appreciate on a surface level for cool imagery, intriguing music snippets and such, or you’ll find something more. Or, like the video’s title suggests, we might like it either way but still not actually understand it.
It’s been quite some time since we got some new Gambino, and after the announcement that his involvement in season 5 of Community will be significantly reduced (and there’s talk he’ll be killed off too?!) so he can focus more on his music, it’s a release that many will hope precedes several more.
If you ever wanted to encapsulate the trichotomy of Gambino’s work as an artist, this track does it for you. Opening up in an alternative, acapella fashion, the opening is reminiscent of his earlier, more leftfield work and focuses on his oft-forgotten skill as a vocalist. We heard plenty of those vocals on Camp, an album which also featured the type of contemplative production and storytelling lyricism that makes up the second segment of this track, with the delicate piano melody and relatively quick raps combining for an effort that would have slotted in well on that LP. The third segment is a bassier, more aggressive approach that’s closer to his work since Camp, particularly on Royalty, delivering the same semi-autobiographical lyricism in a more intense manner that fits the harsher, grittier production he’s provided with. It’s a good performance throughout, with the three distinct sections held together by the songwriting, and in theory there should be something in here to satisfy each section of his fanbase- stream and download here.
Fair play to Funk Flex for this though, as the lineup is unbelievable and essentially a snapshot of mainstream hip-hop at this moment in time. Appearances include A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Childish Gambino, Fabolous, Action Bronson, Slaughterhouse, Young Jeezy and many, many more; for a full list, check out the back artwork over at Funk’s place. Many of the tracks from this tape have leaked out individually in the last 24 hours too, and thankfully they’re tagless versions, with one notable example being the Joey Bada$$ effort on the mixtape. If you’re after any of the other individual tracks, I’m sure a quick Google search can help you there, otherwise grab the bumper project for free below.
It’s fair to say that for most of the hip-hop community, the jury’s out on whether CyHi’s got enough to really make an impact. He seems to have had some great opportunities, from several features on Kanye’s much-loved G.O.O.D. Fridays series a couple of years ago to his inclusions on the Cruel Summer album, but never seems to do enough to stand out.
It’s another chance to change that here, and he’s got a great cast of supporting acts to help him boost his reputation. Guest spots include Childish Gambino, Big K.R.I.T., Yelawolf, Smoke DZA and several more, whilst the production lineup features Lex Luger, Beat Billionaire and a couple of newer names behind the boards. Generally speaking, I’ve tried to support CyHi’s work where possible, and here’s hoping the Atlanta native can now justify that; find out for sure with the free stream and download below.
The accompanying Tweet to this said ‘LES video for those who didn’t catch the concerts’, so I assume this was played during performances of the fantastic track on recent tours.
I go back and forth, but this is probably my favourite song from Camp. The combination of those absolutely superb strings, the soft hook and the punchy verses makes for a trifecta of excellence, and a track that’s easy to play over and over again.
The video is a very nice accompaniment, and though Gambino doesn’t feature outside of a brief and rather steamy cameo (props if you spot it), it’s a nice capture of the very New York area that the song is titled after. Hipsters aplenty, there’s a nice personal feel about the whole thing, capturing people within their element in various locations, whether its a concert, eaterie, taxi or any other spot, it’s a good look into a few nights around the Lower East Side, and almost gives the whole place a rather relatable, homely feel. That vibe is mostly borne out of the fact its pretty much unfiltered in terms of the footage: shops closed for the taxi, traffic, and various other non-glamorous entities crop up throughout, whilst the fantastic quality of the actual footage is also a factor in making the clip feel like a snapshot of reality. Good all-round clip for a great song.
As per every year, the only thing we check the BET Awards for is these excellent ciphers, and this year is no different.
The 2012 edition brings you some utterly superb lineups, with the clip up here being a personal highlight as it features several of my favourite upcomers-A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Childish Gambino and Angel Haze, alongside newcomer Driicky Graham. The rest of the ciphers feature the likes of T.I., B.o.B., Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, DMX, Eve, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Kurupt, DJ Quik, Xzibit, Mac Miller, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Hopsin and more.
Plenty of promise, click on below to check out all of the ciphers. Who do you reckon had the standout performance? Big fan of Joey Bada$$ with the cipher up here, and my winners for the rest are below.
I don’t know a great deal about Rapsody, but the album’s warming title and artwork coupled with a phenomenal lineup of features makes this one that I’m very eager to check out sooner rather than later.
Assists on this one come from Childish Gambino, Rocki Evans, Mac Miller, The Cool Kids, Ab-Soul, Raheem DeVaughn and more. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s as close to grabbing a complete who’s who of upcoming rappers as anyone’s come in recent months, and not only does that add star power, but it gives Rapsody plenty to compete with and live up to. With such weighty cosigns I’m sure he’ll have some quality to deliver, and you can stream or download the album over at DJBooth below.
Straight up the only reason why I’m interested in this track is because Childish Gambino features, a rapper who has had a supreme 2012. This collaboration has come a bit out of the blue and is set to be the second single from Leona’s Glassheart album.
A bizarre collaboration that doesn’t disappoint, Leona delivers some passionate notes (a song co-written by the excellent Emeli Sandé) with Gambino assisting with a closing (short) introspective verse. If you’re a fan of either artist you’ll love this; it’ll certainly be sitting in my rotation for a while. Only a stream below for now, but you can buy the single on October 7th on iTunes.
Last year’s Camp release gets a new video release, though this one’s definitely unexpected given both the slightly different direction Gambino’s music has gone in recent months, and the fact the album was released quite some time ago.
It’s actually surprisingly dark and unusual at times, with the visuals ranging from quite violent scenes to bizarre mind control-esque devices, some kind of time or dimension-travel machine and more. It’s built quite progressively, as the video starts fairly normally (with the exception of the lead character glancing up at what looks like a very nearby planet), before moving into a sci-fi, parallel universe angle which doesn’t match up with the style and vibe of the audio at all. Hence, it’s an almost disorienting watch at times and doesn’t quite sit right, not least because the last minute seems to try to pack so much in. As individual entities, the audio is great and the video would be fine set to an M83 track (or similar), and whilst I’m all for attempting audio-to-video style contrasting, to me this doesn’t come off as a package.
One that didn’t make the final cut for Royalty, but finds a home on DJ So Super Sam’s upcoming Trigger Happy mixtape. Admittedly, I’ve got no idea who she is but she’s grabbed a good track and some nice artwork.
TDE and Gambino seem to have a good relationship as this marks the third TDE rapper to work with Childish (after ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul), with Jay Rock coming through and probably stealing the show here. The production is one of those darker, gritter and more aggressive beats that Gambino favoured on Royalty, which suits Jay down to a tee as his rough, powerful style melds with the beat excellently, enhancing the intensity of the track. Things cool down a little for Gambino’s verse as he focuses a little more on the wordplay, though its still a solid verse that’s worth a go. That Alison Brie line…
A project that’s been hotly anticipated by many, and as promised Gambino drops off his latest effort Royalty, the first new set of works since the superb Camp album.
Almost everything we’ve heard from (or assumed to be from) this mixtape has been of a very good standard, and not only that but there’s clearly been an evolution in Childish’s skills that warrants attention. Whilst his material has clearly indicated that music is his primary focus right now, what’s equally telling is the roster of artists who have elected to work with him recently, and this 18-track project continues those co-signs with RZA, Ghostface Killah and many more thrown into the mix. Thoroughly excited about this project, and you can grab it for free at Gambino’s house below.
Childish Gambino is set to drop off his next mixtape, Royalty, on 4th July and on a stop-off at a US radio station he let loose of another track from the project.
As a result it’s just a radio rip for now, but I’m sure that’s enough to whet the appetite ahead of that release next Wednesday. It’s markedly different to almost anything we’ve heard from CG before (and could have featured in this live performance), with a dark, intense production that lends itself to raps that are harsher and a touch more aggressive than any of his previous material. It’s not quite blood and thunder yet, but it’s a step away from the lighter, more pop-oriented material that he’s released, and hence is a good show of variety. Whilst many Gambino fans won’t enjoy this, this was a direction that was expected after watching the aforementioned performance, and as the first track of this ilk to actually emerge, I’m sure instead he’ll gain many more hip-hop fans with this one.
To take the positives out of the situation, it does mean that the choices for this week’s episode sort of fall into my lap, based on old-school tracks I’ve found myself inexplicably listening to recently. The diversity you’ve come to expect (or at least did 2 months ago) from this series is still there, with 4 tracks in 4 different styles, and a nice mix of genres thrown in.
The third instalment of Gambino’s recent free-leases, and he’s snagged a huge name on the feature here as alternative legend Beck lends a hand to help Childish make it three good releases on the trot.
The production is very clever throughout, tailoring to each artist’s strengths in their respective sections. Beck opens the track backed by some fantastic piano work and a sharp percussion, with his almost spoken-word style combining with those provisions for an alt-pop sound. The track threatens a metamorphosis after Beck’s contribution by switching briefly into an electronic transition, before going back to the chords and drums for Gambino’s raps. The switches are made back and forth again part-way through his verse, before the track closes with an instrumental that fully transforms into the electro style. It’s a diverse and dynamic listen that’s impossible to box into a genre, and as a result will go down well with Gambino fans.
Two of my favourite young rappers in the game come together for a collaboration from Gambino’s upcoming and as-yet-untitled mixtape, and it’s the second excellent drop in two weeks from Gambino.
The production is perfect for Nipsey’s style and mirrors some of his selections from his various Marathon projects, blending a laidback cool with a little atmsophere, seriousness and bounce for a beat that will find favour with almost every corner of the hip-hop fanbase. The raps are enjoyable from both acts, with Nipsey bringing his contemplative yet confident style on the opening verse, before Gambino bursts in with a hook that sounds straight out of the West coast playbook, before transitioning into an empassioned verse that’s similar to Nipsey’s in subject matter, making for some welcome consistency and giving the track a good structure. Really likeable one again from Childish Gambino, and that mixtape can’t come soon enough.
Many will recognise this as one of the outstanding tracks from the quartet he performed recently, and I’ve been looking forward to this being released. The production is wonderfully easygoing, with the opening relying heavily on a light key melody before launching into, and blending with, a pulsating percussion and some superb raps from Gambino. There’s a mixture of motivational and biographical lyricism in this one, making for relatable content to accompany the warming production, including a couple of lines that will surely get the gossip columns talking (“hope the show gets cancelled, maybe then I can focus“). I’d rather ignore that and celebrate this track for the summery, all-round throughly enjoyable effort it is, and I’d fully recommend this to all Gambino fans.
I know this collaboration will excite a lot of OTU fans, and rightfully so. Two upcoming rappers who’ve risen at different ends of the spectrum, and this is about as good a co-sign as Gambino’s managed to grab to date in his quest to be taken much more seriously as a rapper.
Assumedly from his upcoming mixtape, and having given Funk Flex the honour of premiering this a couple of nights back, he’s certainly upped the hype for that project. There’s a clear maturity taking place with Gambino’s raps, leaving behind his lighter style for something a little darker and more aggressive in a recent video, and that’s a trait carried over here. A slow, ominous production holds things together whilst both rappers grab the beat in very different ways, and whilst Q edges it with his razor-sharp flow, Gambino’s performance is enjoyable with some nice lyrical high points. Radio rip for now, and I’m looking forward to a better version.
You’re not alone: I also have no idea who those features are.
New material from Gambino, possibly from his upcoming mixtape, and it’s a short one that won’t wow anyone. The sample is funny at first but becomes annoying quite quickly, whilst the opening feature comes across as more parody than anything (is this Gambino alter-ego’s or something?), though the second feature isn’t as bad, with a speedy flow that works well with the beat. Gambino closes the track out with a decent verse that switches between a couple of flows to good effect, and whilst I can’t complain about his raps, the beat is far too annoying for me to really appreciate the track as a whole.
Winding up for his first post-Camp project with an upcoming mixtape, Childish Gambino performs a few tracks slated for the project.
The key notable is Gambino’s increased tenacity and aggression in comparison to his previous material, suggesting a departure from his lighter, more universally-friendly style, and you get the impression he’s embraced hip-hop a little more, rather than the more eclectic approach previously taken. Whilst narrowing your horizons isn’t usually a good move, there’s potential that this shift will lead to him being taken more seriously as a rapper, and may signal a lyrical change from the relatively samey content of Camp.
The tracks themselves vary in style, with the opener having a nice drive and intensity to it, whilst the second is the highlight courtesy of an addictive upbeat production. The third has a minimality that confidently puts all of the spotlight on the raps, whilst the final track has a Lex Luger-esque production coupled with some excellent flows, making for the most ‘typical’ hip-hop track of the quartet. Good diversity between the four, and I’m looking forward to that tape.
My favourite track off his album, Camp, and possibly my favourite Gambino song thus far, gets the video treatment. The vid itself premièred on Friday evening, but it was only available to view for those in America (boo). Someone’s kindly put this on Youtube, and hopefully it won’t get deleted!
Gambino spoke to MTV about this video and highlighted that it wasn’t so much a music video, but more the capturing of the mood of the song. This relationship is one of confusion and conflicted feelings, which is reflected in the video. Quite apt that it takes place in a car throughout, as relationships (good or bad!) are a journey.
Well worth a watch, and if you haven’t heard and you happen to like this song then you really should acquire more of Childish Gambino’s music!
Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino is a name that you should be hearing more and more of in 2012 (especially seeing as the awesome comedy that he stars in, Community, is currently on hiatus!).
Performing live on Letterman, Heartbeat is one of the leading lights on his current album, Camp. Great to see him perform this, as he gears up for two London shows in January (on the 25th and 26th) the first of which sold out (I have a spare ticket btw if anyone wants to be super nice to me) within 10 minutes! That just gives you an idea towards his burgeoning reputation.