Why you haven’t heard it
Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, is a multidisciplinary artist and one of the most accomplished of his generation. While his musical output ranks high in the art scene, it is easy to overlook. Even though Because the Internet debuted high on all charts when it was released on Dec. 10, 2013 and received mostly positive reviews, the average Joe still passed Gambino off as another actor turned musician.
But with an impressive 19-song setlist, all ordered into sections headed by roman numerals, Because the Internet is anything but conventional. In fact, after listening to the album, it seems like Gambino designed it to be listened to during winter holidays while you were at home basking in loneliness, exhaustion, and some existentialism. So, while some of us who are familiar with the hip-hop scene ranked the record on some sort of top ten list, it was frequently missed by the casual rap/hip-hop listener.
Why it might be tough to get through
While labelled as a rap album, Because the Internet is much harder to digest when compared to your average Drake LP.
Because the Internet readily explores Donald Glover’s eccentric public persona and the album’s underlying purpose to find the meaning of life is nothing new in the world of music. And though the record is fashioned together by Gambino’s incredible creativity, it’s hard to pick up on at first listen.
Gambino’s range as a musician and an artist, specifically in this album, shone through in his use of difficult themes, complex allusions, and random, yet profound, sampling. All of this combined with the rest of the multimedia project he shared prior to the album release, makes Because the Internet easy to listen to, but difficult to grasp in one listen.
Why you should listen to it anyway
One word: range. With Gambino almost exclusively producing the entire record, there are tracks that hit every note that you want to hit in a hip hop album—corny, sad, excited, and even political.
The four singles that preceded the album’s release hit some great sounds and included enough of Gambino’s scattered wit to give you something to love. Gambino was also clever in enlisting the help of talented recording artists like Jhene Aiko, Chance the Rapper, Miguel, and Azealia Banks, who provided the record with a great degree of depth. Most importantly, the work is loud, charismatic, and will not stop until you at least do one shoulder bop.
- Donald Glover decided on the stage name Childish Gambino by using an automated Wu-Tang Clan name generator in 2008.
- To promote the release of the record, Gambino released a 72-page screenplay alongside a short film called Clapping for the Wrong Reasons.
- The album was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards.
Best lines and songs:
“Got so high off volcanoes, now the flow is so lava” from the song “3005”.
“Got a glass house in the Palisades, that a-k-a/ White hood, white hood, (okay-kay-kay)” from the song “Sweatpants”.