We've definitely seen a shift in the music paradigm, when a mixtape can now trump a proper record release.
One of my favorite rap albums, and overall listens of 2012 was a mixtape, by none other than Childish Gambino. CG's Royalty had it all. Great hooks, tight ryhmes, and big beats, jacked from other artists. It's cool to see where some of them come from (Boss of Nova), and what Mr. Glover will do, say, or think over these hijacked beats. After all Gambino is a perfectionist, and his lyrics are those of great craftsmanship. Before he puts out a product he makes sure it's quality.
That's why this album made my Top 10. It wasn't just an average mixtape, and believe me, Gambino could have done that and got away with it. He's an actor, and a touring comedian, besides being a rapper. He could have phoned this one in, but Royalty is quite the contrary.
Check out the hook on "Wonderful."
We finally made it/And now we sailin'/I never dreamed we'd get this far/My heart keeps asking
How did it get so wonderful? So wonderful/How did it get so wonderful? So wonderful
You want to sing it, it's a beautiful little song in a chorus, that sets you up for a tale of youth and a climb to the top.
You can call the shots, I'm going to my aunt's house
What's it all about? Lookin' like I'm Millhouse
What's it all about? I ain't get my bike back
I ain't get my bike back, I know where he live at
I know what he look like, I know what I live like
Five to a bed, head to toe, that's a good night
Five to a bed, head to toe, with the fan on
I don't think these other niggas know what your man on
I love it because it's relateable. I had my bike stolen. I knew who had it, and my parents made me face the kid; I was TERRIFIED. I had to take free lunch for awhile when my parents got divorced, and it was embarrassing.
"I use to have to creep just to get some food/free lunch made it feel like they don't approve."
Once you had that colored token, nobody knew any different. But waiting in line to get that token each morning, with kids that paid $1, made me feel ashamed. I would whisper my name, and mention I was on the "Free-Lunch" list so no one behind me could hear. Now that's real life, but who put's that in a rap song? Only Gambino, he's the new Kanye West, before Yeezy got full of himself.
There's the grimy "Arrangements," which is gangster rap, something you wouldn't think Gambino would survive on, but instead, he excels. Sounding hood, he forces the hand of guest Gonage, who sounds like the Godfather himself with his deep drawl.
"Unnecessary" is about things that are just that. Having a watch on your arm the size of condo, and skiing all over the world, are just a few of the absurd things he throws in your face.
"Bathroom DVR, that’s unnecessary/Condo on my arm, that ain’t even unnecessary"
"Skiing in Japan, that’s unnecessary/Molly on my rider, that’s unnecessary."
Finally, I have to mention "1-Up," with it's minor key sounding like the bros are lost in a video game. Let's call Gambino and his brother, Steve G. Lover III, Mario and Luigi.
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, nigga one up
This mixtape deserves WAY more credit than it got. Sooner than later folks won't be able to ignore the sunami brewing that is Childish Gambino.
Filed under: Uncategorized