Remember when XXL Magazine infamously snubbed Drake for their famously debated "Freshmen" list, their annual mainstream coming-out party for ten promising spitters? Well the 2011 list has passed and while they gave Based God some shine, they lamed again with this one. Meet Donald Glover, aka the Childish Gambino, and the last person you'd ever expect to have bars for days. Donald is self-admittedly nerdy, devoid of street cred and any major hip-hop co-signs (for now at least) and very emotive. He also, as aforementioned, has bars for days. The kid nobody, including himself, thought the public would take seriously as an MC is now among the most refreshing up-and-comers out there. "Hovi with glasses, Weezy but geeky." Without further ado, here are the five essential Childish Gambino songs.
*Gambino Facts - Yup, that's the same Donald Glover that plays Troy on your beloved Community. In addition to rapping, Donald is also a rising comedic talent.*
"Don't add an 'eezy' to my name cuz it has never been that." The best track in the as-of-right-now Childish Gambino discography, and one of the best tracks to drop so far in hip-hop 2011. The Childish one wants you to know he's gunning for the top, and if he goes against everything you normally picture for a rapper, he might agree with you, but he still ain't stopping. And for those who think he's one of those rapper-turned-actors he was "rapping back when Lance had chemo, ho."
**Gambino Facts - Contradictory to that line above, he sometimes refers to himself as "Cheezy." I'll stick with stomaching the name Childish Gambino for now.**
"People tell me I should spit under Donald Glover/but I try to keep my real name undercover/cuz if you hear my name, then you think it's jokes/and I can't go for that nigga, Hall & Oates" Donald gets introspective and reflective on this track, which is 2 parts "Last Call" 1 part "The Calm," as he tells us who he is and what he's about. Lots of telling lines that put you into his mindset more so than any of his other songs, and definitely a crucial piece in the Gambino playlist.
***Gambino Facts - Donald's a triple threat. In addition to rapper and comedian he's a writer as well, having been a member of the 30 Rock writer's team for a time. He's credited Tina Fey with inspiring him to pick up rapping again.***
Freaks and Geeks
Song-making ability is clutch, but every new rapper needs to prove they can actually flow. Gambino gets on his "A Milli" steez, no hook just straight spit over a colossal beat backed by violins and epic chants. The titular metaphor is a bit of a stretch but the rest of the bars are on point: "My clique make that dinero, so it's time to meet the fuckers," and "Chillin with my N-Words, say it like a white kid/'yes your ass is big as hers' say that to my white bitch."
****Gambino Facts - No he's not related to that other black guy with the last name Glover.****
The Longest Text Message
Entertainment Weekly recently mis-branded this as a naughty, for the ladies joint. It's really more like a glorified middle finger to the typical bad-bitch-who-knows-she's-a-bad-bitch that hopeless romantics Eminem and Joe Budden would approve of (they probably would've name-dropped though). Gambino comes off as falsely nonchalant but regardless of how he really felt about shorty he's sure got some words for her ("You ain't that fine bitch, what the fuck ya heard?"). And while Donald may feel like he's not in the same class of "cool" as the popular rappers today, he sure can shit-talk with the best of them with slick one-liners like "Fucking bitches left and right, my dick is ambidextrous." Much more so than his overt radio attempts like "Lights Turned On" and "Put It In My Video" he definitely could have a hit on his hands with this once its mixed and mastered.
*****Gambino Facts - Last year he launched a twitter campaign #donald4spiderman for the title role of the upcoming reboot. It caught fire, eventually gaining the support of Stan Lee and favored Spidey scribe Brian Michael Bendis. Obviously the role went to Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) but Donald was not even given an audition. #Racists.*****
Childish Gambino himself is not an experimental rapper, just a dude you wouldn't quite picture as one. But this is definitely one of his more experimental songs. I'm not sure if that's him singing on all his other hooks, but it's definitely Donald on this one, stepping up to sing a spoken word-ish ode to a girl that could've been the one for him. Could've. She later gets a jab on "Be Alone." Either way, it works, a lot better than expected.
******Gambino Facts - He graduated the Dramatic Writing program at NYU in 2006.******
Thoughts? Remember, these are just five songs hand-picked to display all the best sides of Gambino musically. There's a handful more that are equally cold, go and download his mixtapes Culdesac and EP here: http://www.culdesac-album.com/ and here: http://www.childishgambino.blogspot.com/