Album Review: Camp – Childish Gambino
If you ever seen his work in shows such as 30 Rock and Community, then you’ll no doubt know that Donald Glover is quite the talented actor. He’s also quite a talented MC as well. Under the name Childish Gambino he shows that technically he is quite the gifted artist, with good intentions. However his first major release Camp is the leading contender for Bi Polar album of the year.
It’s evident that Glover has got skill and his heart seems to be in the right place but his head is all over the place. Camp is an album filled with mixed messages throughout. Lyrically on one hand he is full of self confidence and belief, in other places he comes across as extremely insecure. Granted everybody filters between the two, but Camp swings between the furthest points of each end of the spectrum. Gambino can be dropping lines about taking this guy’s girlfriend, that guys girlfriend, groupies sending him pictures and his love for asian women. And then turn to rapping about the vulnerability of his heart and how much love he has to give. Outside the realm of romance his approach to his music is also somewhat of an oxymoron. On one hand he prides himself on being different and not being “hood” and then right after he’s making his way through a checklist of rap cliches. He also seems to be very insecure about his own “blackness” and his admitted embrace of “white” music. He seems to be defending his identity with one hand and striking against it with the other. It’s these conflicting ideas which leaves Camp feeling like a frosted window into the inner workings of both Childish Gambino and Donald Glover. You cant make out what’s what or even which one is being portrayed at any one time.
Vocally Glover has improved a lot, his flow for the most point is pretty good but he still seems to be finding his niche. He still filters between the styles of rappers such as Kanye and especially Lil Wayne. Childish Gambino has a habit of over using Weezy like punch lines, some of them are actually pretty good and hit hard. But they become expected and formulaic, Gambino is technically a sound MC and at points drops bars which make your neck snap up to attention. But he needs to start building up his own style, otherwise he will continue to be subjected to easy comparisons.
There’s no doubt that there is potential in Childish Gambino, he just needs to clear his mind and project himself with more clarity and precision. There are a lot of loose ends and rough edges to Camp which prevent it from succeeding, but if Glover can tidy these up then there is definetly hope for him to be the exciting MC he has the ability to be.