Donald Glover is a well-known actor and music extraordinaire. He has played some huge roles in movies like “Solo” and “The Martian,” and has also released some fantastic albums like Because the Internet and “Awaken, My Love!” under his stage name “Childish Gambino.” However, the newest generation knows him because of his latest single “This Is America,” with a music video expressing his point of view on racism towards black people in America. This video blew up and has brought a lot of attention to him. Even though Glover has a fantastic acting career, this article will focus on his musical side and a brief history of his discography and improvements in his music since he is retiring from music. I will be reviewing his three main studio albums: Camp, Because the Internet, and “Awaken, My Love!”.
Camp is the first studio album Childish Gambino released, and it is by far the worst. He uses loud orchestral beats that are attempting to sound full and majestic, and then raps poorly over them and ruins the song. The beats often feel like they are missing something, like an extra drum beat, a guitar strum, piano chord, or something, and even when the production is complete and sounds good, Gambino does not know how to perform over it. I often find Gambino trying to rap about something meaningful over a beat filled with orchestral violins, drums, and clapping that in theory should sound great, but his delivery on some of these songs are very blunt and ruin the tone of the song completely. Like on “All The Shine,” Gambino uses very dull deliveries for the first verse that does not appeal to me at all.
Sometimes, however, Gambino performs completely fine, but the production is what ruins everything. For example, on “Heartbeat,” the bassy beat that is always blaring in your ears gets annoying after a while. Gambino has some great verses and tells a great love story, but the beat completely ruins it. Another example of terrible beats is on “Backpackers,” the loud bang of what sounds like two pots banging together makes my head rattle.
However, with all these negatives, there are some glimpses of greatness throughout the album. For example, on “All The Shine,” even though his delivery sounds odd during the verses, the chorus is amazingly good. He took advantage of his impressive singing voice in the chorus of the song. In fact, throughout most of the album, the chorus’ are pretty good, and I do not have much of a problem with them. Overall, however, the album is awful, and I find no reason to revisit it.
Because the Internet is Childish Gambino’s second studio album, and it includes some of the best performances from Gambino. On songs like “Sweatpants,” “3500,” and “I. The Worst Guys,” Gambino shows off the significant improvements he has made since the release of Camp. The production from the album is stellar, and Gambino performs tremendously well on all of the beats. The beats tend to stray away from orchestral sounds, that Gambino performed poorly on, and leans more towards artificially made production that he does well over.
Childish Gambino showcases his newly found rapping abilities throughout the album, with incredible flows on songs like “Sweatpants.” On this track, Gambino sounds smooth and comfortable on the mic as if he had been making music for decades. Gambino effortlessly builds impressive rhyme schemes that never seem to end. Gambino improved his vocals as well as his rapping ability. On songs like “3005,” Gambino samples his excellent singing voice during the chorus when he sings, “I’ll be right by your side until 3005.” He sounds terrific and is improving drastically from his previous album.
“Awaken, My Love!” is Childish Gambino’s third and final studio album, and it is by far his best. This album is where Childish Gambino separates himself from other artists. “Awaken, My Love!” leaps off the speeding highway of Hip Hop, and transitions onto the smooth joyride of Rhythm and Blues (R&B). The majority of this album is Gambino showing off his astounding vocals and incredible use of autotune.
The production throughout the album is astounding with artificial beats that fluctuate from drum-based beats on songs like “Have Some Love,” to string-based beats on songs like “Boogieman.” The best beat on the album is the beat on “California,” the light ukelele strums with the light sand maraca in the background sounds incredible. However, even though the production is fantastic, this song is the worst on the album. Childish Gambino’s overly autotuned vocals ruin the song and sound horrendous.
The main highlight of the album is the vocals from Childish Gambino. He works very well over slower beats, and his singing voice is outstanding. The best examples of Gambino’s voice come from songs like “Redbone” and “Stand Tall,” Gambino hits some impressive notes on these songs, and his small use of autotune helps bring the songs together.
Throughout Childish Gambino’s career, he has showcased his wide variety of musical talents and has to output some fantastic albums, including “Awaken, My Love!” and Because the Internet. Gambino has gone from fast-paced rap songs like “Sweatpants” to slow songs that use his vocals as the focal point of the song. Throughout all this diversity, he has done amazingly and has secured a fantastic music career that he is sadly retiring from.