Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) is not related to Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Gone Fishin’). He is, however, a sort of millennial Renaissance man; he’s not so much a “rapper” as an artist making rap music. This isn’t to say that his rhymes are strictly ironic; hip-hop is a medium that Glover uses confidently to say what he wants to say. He adopted the name Childish Gambino by way of an online Wu-Tang Clan name generator, a fitting example of his sharp wit (a wit no doubt honed during a stint writing for NBC’s 30 Rock). It’s Glover’s candidness, though, and his ability to impart intimacy into his verses that make Childish Gambino’s flow unique. Last year’s late release Because the Internet can feel a bit like a hipster twenty-something credo, but it’s also sonically enthralling and markedly more complex than 2011’s Camp. At its best, Because is soaring and bright; Glover’s sense of melody is superb, and the hooks are both intimate and infectious. At its worst, it feels forced, and like Glover is posturing. Regardless of all this, Because remains interesting due to Glover’s use of the album format as a dramatic staging device for five separate “scenes.” Perhaps equally as notable, though, is the bridge that Glover has built between hip-hop and Hollywood. Some rappers have tried to act and some celebrities have tried to rap, but these have always been package deals: Warren Beatty the actor rapped; Snoop Dogg the rapper acted. Donald Glover became Childish Gambino.
Because the Internet