Monday 11 April 2011

EP Review: Childish Gambino - EP [Free Download]

Here at Quiff Pro 'Fro, we don't pretend to be experts in hip-hop - but once in a while a rapper comes along with such talent that it truly blows us away. Such a rapper is Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, who is already a fairly well-established comedian on the US sketch show Saturday Night Live.

"Honesty, I’m rappin’ ’bout everything I go through
Everything I’m sayin’, I’m super sayin’ like Goku"

With lines like the above it's no wonder Glover has gathered a cult following among the hipster crowd. Don't be fooled though: despite the level of witty references, Childish Gambino is no novelty rapper. The wordplay and use of rhythm and alliteration are phenomenal - far above the standards of, at the very least, most commercial rappers.

"An elephant never forgets, so my dick remembers everything"

Sure, most of it is egotistical, boastful stuff, but at least it's genuinely funny and clever. Glover spends much of the time emphasising his isolation and unhappiness too; how many rappers open their records with the refrain "I don't wanna be alone"?

In fact, in this context the boastful lines seem defensive more than aggressive, a joke to help shrug off the nastiness of the world. On a more negative note, some of this bitterness comes off as misogynistic, portraying all women as lying, money-obsessed sex objects. Who knows, perhaps Glover has had his heart seriously hurt in the past - but it does leave a slightly sour taste in the mouth.

"I don’t fuck with fake bitches except for when I fuck with fake bitches"

Anyway, onto the music - an aspect of hip-hop that often feels like a second thought to most artists. In the case of the tracks off EP, Glover combines fashionable synths and computerised beats with unusual strings and choirs to great effect. It sounds epic and timeless already.

Sometimes the music and vocals can sound a little disconnected though, and it can suffer from a refusal to allow any instrumental sections last any longer than a handful of bars. (Can I coin a term here? "Instrumental fear" - when a musician worries that their listeners will get bored if they shut their gobs for more than thirty seconds.)

Like the best music, though, EP has an intangible, indescribable quality that leaves it lodged inside your brain, lyrics, music and all. It's hip-hop with a geeky, middle-class, self-aware soul - and is all the better for it.

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