Review: Childish Gambino – Because The Internet

Ben Ellenberg ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Album cover for Because the Internet. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Album cover for Because the Internet. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

People talk a lot about a musician’s style. This is different from their genre, because it’s too personal a descriptor to apply to larger groups. Style is something possessed wholly by that individual musician. A band’s style is the combination of those musicians collaborating. It’s distinct, familiar, and extremely abstract. Nobody would claim Yeezus is the same as Late Registration, but it’s all certainly within the style as Kanye, and each album is stylistically whole on it’s own.

That said, Childish Gambino’s Because The Internet doesn’t give a flying f— about style, and that’s a great thing.

Gambino’s sophomore album comes off the heels of his Royalty mixtape, which featured a more abstract, thoughtful version of the artist than reflected on his fantastic debut album Camp.  One can certainly trace elements of both Camp and Royalty to Internet, as well as his less official projects like Culdesac. However, there’s something completely different in the new album. Gambino claimed he wanted this to be a project that wasn’t just an album but an experience, and he delivered on that gamble.

The album swings from southern-influenced heavy-hitting raps like World Star to slow RnB like Telegraph. The album feel schitzophrenic. It’s an artist in transition. It’s also very much a project. There are transition songs similar to those on Kanye’s Late Registration, though with less dialogue.

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Some of those transitions are so good they have me playing them more often than some of the full songs on this album. The Party stands out to me as one of those transitions. What begins as an odd slow-ballad about a party turns into Gambino’s single hardest verse. He builds and builds until he quite literally kicks everyone out of his fucking house.

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As Gambino’s said in interviews, there’s an overarching theme tying this chaos together. Because the Internet does right by its name and explores the ways we interact with social media in a very personal ways. He ruminates on loneliness, isolation, and failed expectations more than a few times over the course of this album, specifically how the web has changed why and how we experience those feelings. Gambino doesn’t just accomplish this examination lyrically, the very sound of some of these songs hits you in the gut.

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Not everything on this album is going to be the radio’s friend. There’s some very odd stuff here, such as Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information), Flight of the Navigator and No Exit, but it’s all extremely good music. 3005, Sweatpants, and The Worst Guys are already stuck in my head.

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Overall, this album is a logical step from Gambino that still feels completely out of left field. It’s random enough to never become tedious. On my third listen through the album, I still discovered gems and bits that I’d missed that make me smile.

Overall Grade: A-

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