Childish Gambino - Because The Internet

Some of the most embarrassingly personal displays of emotional trauma this side of Weezer’s ‘Pinkerton’.

Label: Island

Rating:

Hip hop has been a cranial splatter on the wall of the music industry this year, a year in which even the biggest artists are attempting things usually left for those in the underground. Kanye scared the majority of his fans with the intimidating ‘Yeezus’, Danny Brown put out a schizophrenic will with ‘Old’, Drake tried to convince us that he started from the bottom (he didn’t) and Death Grips leaked their own album, again. It’s been a messy year for the genre, but no album embodies that as unapologetically as ‘Because the Internet’.

As a culmination of everything Donald Glover has done as Childish Gambino thus far, ‘Because the Internet’ finally taps into the deep well of potential that both ‘Camp’ and ‘Royalty’ hinted at. His insecurities still make up a lot of the lyrical content, but this time around it’s not just an excuse for him to whine. The bizarre concepts and fragmented production represent Glover’s scattershot mind just as much as his lyrics, which are among some of the most embarrassingly personal displays of emotional trauma this side of Weezer’s ‘Pinkerton’.

It’s one of the least cohesive hip-hop records of the year, but it’s that incoherent nature that makes it so compelling. Production techniques are frequently overly obtuse, toying with accessibility before employing sudden cuts to shoot the song in a different direction. It’s dizzying, but it’s also tremendously exciting. Just as you begin to follow its puzzling story, a fork in the road immediately pops up to throw you off course. The bewildering course of the record builds to the phenomenal confessional ‘Life: The Biggest Troll’, which closes out the record in a clever, funny and oddly touching manner.

Accompanied by a wonderfully ambitious script, the endearing scope is grand yet succinct - as a shotgun blast that mostly hits, it’s disjointed in a way that helps instead of hindering. In between the kind of incredible references to things as odd as ‘Sister Sister’, there’s a tender heart at the centre of it all, supplying just the right amount of emotional weight amongst the off-kilter humour. He hasn’t quite perfected his talents, but it’s far and away the best work he’s done as Gambino yet. If this sense of progression is anything to go by, then maybe it’s about time he’s treated with the respect he so clearly demands.