Childish Gambino just dropped one of the best mixtapes I have ever heard. It's called ROYALTY, and it was free. While the music industry is waiting for the government to police the internet, generation next are rewriting history.
Let me explain a little as to what I mean, and why I am so hyped up about Gambino's latest effort. According to Wikipedia, a mixtape is "the generic name given to any compilation of songs recorded onto a Compact Cassette, Compact Disc, music file, or any other audio format." Fast forward 20 years, and Urban Dictionary says a mixtape is "an underground cd, etc. that usually contain freestyles/remixes/instrumentals or real songs before they hit the mainstream (minus the dj yelling)."
That latter definition is ultimately what mixtapes now are, real songs that might never make a proper album. To further that statement, mixtapes are becoming proper albums. The only difference is, you won't find them in Target or Best Buy, but you can download them for free online, with the artwork and linear notes. In the last few years, mixtapes have become less about remixes and rapping over others instrumentals, and more about introducing new songs, styles, and artists. Gambino built his following and his name off of mixtapes, so it comes as no surprise that he would elevate the game.
With Childish Gambino's latest release, he has definitely upped "The Tape Game." Put this album in you car and it BOOMS! Play it on you iPhone and it sounds as good as the rest of your catalog. It's not a cheap sounding release. It sounds like something you'd pay $15 for. Never one to sleep on his lyrics, some of the best lines recorded by Gambino are here on ROYALTY. There are many original ideas on this album as well. On "One Up (ft. Steve G. Lover)," 'Bino uses a staple phrase from video games to describe his stamina for late night parties; "1UP!" It's catchy and funny all at the same time.
Yea, we party ‘til the sun up/You ain’t liking what we doing – shut up
You ain’t liking what we doing – shut up/We got that extra life, one up
On another track "Unnecessary," he describes things in his life that are just that; unnecessary.
Bathroom DVR, that’s unnecessary/Condo on my arm, that ain’t even unnecessary
Pisa for a day, that’s unnecessary/Shows a hundred K, that ain’t even necessary
It goes on and on like this, but with a truthfulness that's comical. Most emcees stop after bragging, but this man takes it a step further. We read the magazines, we know their lifestyles are "unnecessary." But this jab at the lifestyles of the rich and famous is fun. Finally, an emcee keeping it real.
There are 18 songs on this mixtape, and not every track is stellar. But, most of the content is quality. A handful of these songs could be singles, that would do well on radio. But that will never happen, as nobody can profit from these types of albums, as there is nothing to sell. Which leads me to that opening statement; "Royalty Rewrites History." With this album, it's painfully obvious that the old guard has been removed and in it's place is a new one. There is a business plan in place, and the entrance fee is free. But, the product will keep you coming back, time and time again. Back to the shows to see the artist perform those new songs. Back to the shows to purchase those t-shirts, and back to the website to find and purchase those LP's that can't be found in stores.
There is a new generation in charge, and they are making the rules. Many readers would frown about blogs of this nature. While they keep frowning, Childish Gambino's ROYALTY just assured him another sold out tour. He's writing his own history and a blueprint for the future.