Actor Donald Glover, known for his role on NBC’s Community, is making his first commercial release with Camp under the stage name, Childish Gambino . The album in its entirety was released exclusively to npr.com (take a listen here).Camp is set to release November 15 on Amazon.com and iTunes.
The album deals with themes of not fitting in with his other peers, not being enough of a stereotype for his classmates.
Outside introduces the album with an eerie chorus of ‘Oh’ from a choir followed by ‘I used to dream every night/ Now I never dream at all’. The song tells Glovers story of moving from the projects and getting teased in school for not being ‘hood’ enough. After a few verses of his story of moving,the chorus from the choir follows that makes the track slightly less dark. The second verse goes more into the fact that his cousin he was once close with, now looks at him as a stranger. Fire Fly opts for a up-tempo sound.It still stays with that story telling rap style. Gambino uses negative responses he had to deal with and stereotypical comments from others as fuel for the verses the song. The chorus relates to his current fame and how everyone always as for a picture or autograph.
Bonfire starts off with a blaring horn followed by some clever wordplay and faint chanting. This song is more cocky;like Gambino just wants everyone to know how amazing he is. All the Shine shows his softer side; like the relationship he had with his friends younger sister that he regrets. This song is how even though he may do child like things, he’s growing into an adult. ‘what’s the point of rapping if you can’t be your self/that’s why I come first like myself phone’.
Letter Home is a short interlude that switches things up. Instead of rapping, the actor shows off his singing skills over a violin quartet.Heartbeat goes for a strong electro sound, very similar to Kanye’s Love Lock down. This song also is in a different direction in terms of lyrical content; it talks about not being over his ex-girlfriend and not liking her new boyfriend.
Backpackers starts with a skew if screams layered over a hard drum beat. This song really goes with the early half of the album especially since it’s like a big whatever to all the negative comments. L.E.S is a soft, R&B style beat and a message to his girlfriend complementing how great she is.Hold You Down deals with that racism he faced and still faces. He last few verses talk more about how he will one day hold the title for best rapper.
Kids features a xylophone with a violin over a mid tempo beat. This song acts as a great metaphor of how if he and girls would not really notice him before, but since mainstream found him, they all come flocking back.You See Me is set over a hard beat. He talks about his love of Asian women and really good cultural references and wordplay.
Sunrise sounds similar to the first track in terms of beat. Gambino compares himself to how other rappers stuck on a trend and he’s busy starting something new.That Power finishes the album with a mix of beats. His is that final statement to the haters and naysayers.
Donald Glover has the advantage of being a comedian and writer because he can create a metaphor and add witty wordplay to depict his deepest thoughts and feelings in a real way. ‘Camp’ is a great way to show the mainstream audience that he’s still himself and isn’t changing for anyone. This album gets a 5/5.