Album Review: Childish Gambino - Because The Internet

It’s hard not to be a little jealous of Donald Glover, A.K.A. Childish Gambino. The Atlanta born rap artist, actor, writer and former YouTube star has experienced a meteoric rise to fame in an incredibly short amount of time.

The trigger for his sudden stratospheric success, (and part of the reason he’s been cast in big Hollywood blockbusters such as Spider-Man Homecoming and the Han Solo prequel) is arguably down to his second studio album, Because The Internet.

Released in 2013, Because The Internet is a love letter written for the Twitter and meme generation; a generation that’s arguably more socially connected than any that have come before. As Glover started his career making YouTube videos, it’s easy to see why he’d want to pay homage to a community that helped in giving him his big break.

The album revolves around the story of The Boy, a character who lives life on his father’s coin, enjoying all the luxuries that come with such a lifestyle, but finds himself spiralling out of control. Childish Gambino reflects on ideas of the birth, realisation and death of a dream. Track 3, II. Worldstar, deals with his desire to find fame and become a ‘worldstar’ by any means necessary, but by track 11 I. The Party, we find The Boy hosting a party at his sprawling mansion where he’s surrounded by pointless decadence, consumption and fake friends.

Gambino deals with existentialism and responsibilities

Gambino deals with deeper issues of existentialism, or simply put, the meaning of a human being’s existence. He challenges the idea that money strips a person of responsibilities – something many would argue is a life goal – however he doesn’t know if his life means anything without responsibilities. V. 3005 deals with the importance of having someone you love, who gives your life a purpose, whilst II. No Exit, deals with The Boy living inside his mind, dealing with the problem of no responsibilities which proves to be as much of a cage as having them.

The production takes elements of the usual blend of bass, drums and effects you’d expect of a rap album, but Gambino also experiments with softly plucked acoustic guitars and keyboards, as well as different vocal styles. One minute he croons through a track with a soulful voice (one which we would hear a lot more of in his most recent release Awaken, My Love), the next he displays his talent at delivering verses in a clear but impressively fast way.

Many critics write Gambino’s earlier efforts off as millennial rap, which suggests a vapid form of art with little substance and no conviction, but I found Because the Internet to be an engaging album, written by a person who has experienced fame in a way that turns some artists selfish (Justin Bieber springs to mind), but has come out the other side with nothing but quality art to show for it. Because the Internet is a beautiful character study that will make you consider the importance of love, the problem of responsibilities and the meaning of life. In a world full of meaningless music, it’s always a great feeling to find an album that’s profound and encourages you to reflect.