The Washington Post

Childish Gambino album review: ‘Because the Internet’

Childish Gambino performs onstage at the 2014 mtvU Woodie Awards and Festival on March 13, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Rachel Murray/Getty Images For Mtv)
“Because the Internet”

Kindred spirits: Danny Brown,
Kendrick Lamar

Show: Tuesday at the Fillmore. Show starts at 8 p.m. 301-960-9999. Show is sold out.

Childish Gambino is the hip-hop alias of actor/comedian/television writer Donald Glover, best known for his role on the NBC show “Community.” As a rapper, Gambino has come a long way since his 2011 debut, “Camp.” On his new album, “Because the Internet,” he uses improved rhymes to offer social commentary on life behind a screen.

As a concept album, however, it isn’t easy to follow. The ambitious 19-track effort (part of a larger multimedia project that includes a short online film and a 76-page screenplay) has an inconsistent flow. Like he’s clicking between Web pages, Gambino exhibits a short attention span as he moves from track to track. Meaningful quips about Internet saturation (“Common sense, the consequences / Retweet the tweet then regret the mentions”) get lost among hokey similes (“We can kick it like it’s FIFA”) and distracting genre cliches (“Got a Lambo like Lebron’s mom”).

Sonically, too, “Internet” is all over the place, with mixed results. Well-crafted
winner “The Worst Guys” cruises with a jazzy, psychedelic bounce and guest chorus from popular upstart Chance the Rapper. Gambino also finds a tuneful groove in the futuristic R&B of “3005,” highlighted by an enticing hook and melodic synth accents. But a collage of manic dance-beat snippets mars the message of “Earth: The Oldest Computer (Last Night),” and the grating, dub-step-inspired “The Party” should have been scrapped.

Gambino is at his best during the steady roll of album closer “Life: The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer),” a trippy meditation on digital identity in which he asks, “Where’s the line between Donnie G. and Gambino?” After plenty of twists and turns, we’re left to wonder.

Jedd Ferris

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing