It sounds like such a backhanded compliment when you say it at first. It's not the most obvious way to praise an album - usually you'd go for, 'the tunes are amazing', or 'it's lyrically brilliant', or something along those lines. To praise something seemingly superfluous to a record itself could come across as derogatory. But it's true - the best thing about Childish Gambino's label debut Camp is the way it's sequenced.
Sequencing is a funny thing. In some ways, the better the track sequencing on an album is, the less you notice it. It's only when something seems out of place that it can feel strange, that the flow of an album can be suddenly interrupted by a bit too much of a lull here, or a desperate need for a chilled-out track there. Case in point: The Hold Steady's fantastic 2008 album Stay Positive. It's an album I really, really love, and so for Christmas I asked for a wonderful double LP version - for some reason, the tracklisting is slightly different. Two tracks in the middle are switched over, and the latter half is given a bit of a re-shuffle with an (amazing) extra track in there too. Overall, it's nothing too massive, but on listening to the album it just doesn't quite flow as well - it's nothing too great, but it's noticeable. Incidentally, at the moment of writing, Stay Positive on CD (limited edition with three incredible bonus tracks) is currently less than £4 on Amazon, I highly recommend it.
So, back to Gambino, aka Troy from Community.
Released in November last year, Childish Gambino (real name Donald Glover) put out Camp, following a string of free online releases, including debut album Culdesac (still free, here), and the EP, erm, EP (reviewed by our 'Fro here). Now, I never really clicked onto EP in the same way that Elliot did - I did really like 'Freaks and Geeks', even though it seemed to have a worryingly strong fixation on, well... a particular lady-part.
|"The word itself makes some men uncomfortable."|
Camp isn't a perfect record by a long way. Take any track on its own, and you'll find a flaw with most of them. In hip-hop music, there are so many cliches to tread around - how hard life is on 'the streets', how much money you're making, how many hoes you've got in your bedroom, and how you're the 'realest' in 'the game'. Pick apart the Childish Gambino album and you'll tick all of these off your list. BUT, take the album as a whole and the album provides a pretty startling, intimate portrait of who Gambino is, and why these cliches are adhered to and subverted.