Childish Gambino: Welcome to the Real Camp
This week, with all the new warm weather, I have been finding myself drowning in nostalgia and wishing for summer again. In doing so I’ve found myself gravitating to one of my summer obsession: Childish Gambino.
Childish Gambino is none other than the extremely talented Donald Glover. He is a writer, comedian, actor, director, and rapper. You’ve probably heard of him from his work on the show Community, but that is only a glimpse of his abilities.
As I said in the beginning, he was a huge part of my summer. The warm weather is bringing back so many memories that it almost feels wrong to not listen to his music when the sun is out. So, why should you listen to him? And what makes his music unique?
You probably first heard of Gambino when his electrifying song “This is America” hit the radios in 2018. This song still rings true today as it covers topics of racism and black oppression in the States. Many other artists shy away from speaking on topics such as these or even hinting at something of that magnitude. Gambino hit on the topic head on, making sure everyone understood his message.The music video is a true visual masterpiece, depicting scenes of gut wrenching realities many of us don’t think about.
Gambino has actually been in the music world since 2011, when he released his first album Camp. Breaking onto the music scene, this album sets him apart from other rappers. From the beginning of his career, Glover has never been shy about his stance on racism and equality and this album showcases that passion.
In his song “Bonfire” while the lyrics don’t explicitly lay his position out like in “This is America” the music video does an extremely good job with the issue. The opening of the video is Gambino waking up, per say, with a nose around his neck. The rest of the video is him attempting to save a group of campers from a murderer but as if in a dream, no one can hear him or his cries.
Another song that I absolutely adore from this album is “Les.” A story told though song about two people in a relationship and how it affects him, it is beautiful. I find the somber tone of the beats and the presence of little aggression, this song is set apart from others in it’s genre. It isn’t aggressive or angry, it sounds like a letter being sent to a lover. I’d expect to see this in a movie being sung to viewers so they aren’t out of the loop of the plot.
On his next album Because the Internet, released in 2013, the nineteen songs get into a more uplifting tone while still carrying a few darker tones with them. I find this album to be a breath of fresh air as you listen.
I find that I gravitate to a song called “3005.” This was one of my summer anthems and still carries so many memories for me. The beats hold a futuristic sounding tone and makes the title fit the song well. Overall the song is about sticking with someone despite everything that might try to tear them apart. This song is one that you put on in your car at full blast with the windows down as you drive down the highway.
Another bop off of this album is “IV. Sweatpants.” If you haven’t heard this song, you are missing out. It’s intricate beat combined with his lyrics, this song sends a powerful sensation through my bones as I listen. I find this song to hold three different parts, almost acts, as you go through the trip of listening. The beat makes the song sound as if it’s breathing, slowing down making you hold onto every word, speeding up to make you rush to keep up, and stopping to make sure you feel the weight of his message.
His next album Kauai, released in 2014, is the definition of the sound of summer. Each song holds an almost Jamaican sounding beat, giving each song a carefree vibe. With only seven songs, the album still holds it own and leaves it’s mark.
Another summer anthem for me was his song “Sober.” All throughout the song, it gives you the sensation of floating on air. It’s energy is so uplifting and peaceful, while taking a dark turn at the end. It is also another song I would blast though my speakers with my windows down.
His most recent album was released in 2020, 3.15.20. This album is a mix of darker and more hopeful tones, but tends to hang on the edge of darkness. Seeing as it came out right as the world shut down, it matched the time extremely well.
“Algorhythm” is my absolute favorite song from this album. With the dark undertones and his voice in a way we’ve never heard fully in song, this is a masterpiece. It sounds urgent and gives the listener a sense of dread, while still inviting the listener to continue listening.
Another song from the album is “19.10.” This is a less urgent sounding song, I’d argue it’s more on the jazzy side of pop. It really does carry a happier tone while still staying true to the album’s darker tone. I’d expect to be hearing this song featured in an action movie, as the main character walks down a busy street contemplating whatever issue is at hand. Or in the opening sequence of a movie introducing the main character.
And there are so many more songs by him that I just absolutely adore. If you’re looking for a summer anthem or an artist who can provide some decent car ride ballads, I highly recommend Childish Gambino.
Keep on Listening!