Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Album Review: Childish Gambino – “Camp”

As some of my friends know, I have a guilty pleasure for a little Hip-Hop and Rap every once in a while. “BUT DAVID!” I hear you scream, “HIP-HOP DOESN’T HAVE BLAST BEATS OR GUTTURAL VOCALS, HOW COULD YOU ENJOY IT?”. It’s true, I do like me some Hip-Hop from time to time, I’m going to be reviewing one of my new favorite albums from the genre: Camp by Childish Gambino (released November 15, 2011)

Childish Gambino is the stage name of comedian/ actor Donald Glover. Glover rose to popularity with his stand up comedy acts, and solidified himself as a comedy powerhouse by portraying Troy Barnes on NBC’s ridiculously awesome show Community. Gambino’s Camp was the first of his that I’ve heard, and it’s technically his debut studio album, but he’s released a bunch of stuff prior to this as well.

Dat simplicity.

Camp is a more straightforward Hip-Hop album, musically. There are no wonky rhythms and beats a là Death Grips (review of The Money Store coming whenever I get around to listening to it), and no over the top bass lines and bass drops a là every Bro-Hip-Hop and Bro-Rap artist ever. Gambino raps about whatever he feels like, from girls to the state of black youth in America, to his short shorts, to his philosophies. It might seem that since there’s such a wide breadth of topics covered in Camp, it might diminish the whole album as a whole, rest assured, Gambino keeps it surprisingly well focused.

The album holds a dramatic and somewhat melancholic vibe throughout, rising to anger on “Heartbeat” before swinging back down. The emotional mood cracks apart again and transforms into insanity on the track “You See Me” where Gambino’s delivery of the lines makes him sound like a mental case.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought his shirt said "Broom Rape" for a second. Please.

The album suffers in only a couple ways, and that’s in Gambino’s constant references to his dick and the processing on his voice at times. I have no problems with a few dick jokes, but when it starts to crop up in almost every song, it’s a little much. The processed vocals are simply run through some light distortion, but I feel like it really takes away from the quality of his natural voice.

Bomb-Ass Tracks

Outside: The opening track off of Camp really sets the mood for the entire album. It’s one of the more serious songs dealing with how it was like for him to grow up in various neighborhoods as a kid, and he tells the story flawlessly. The choir-sung chorus is absolutely fantastic, and when the piano kicks in, oh man, it’s just perfect.

Heartbeat: This song is just nothing but straight power. The calm choruses offer a nice contrast to the furiously spat out verses. Some of the lines in “Heartbeat” are just genius, too.

That Power: Spoken word over a beat/ track. As the final track, it sums up everything he (and this album) are about and closes off the album incredibly well.

Overall Score


Childish Gambino’s Camp is a great ride of ups, downs, twists and turns which really hits home with me. It’s not without its flaws, but I can easily overlook them for the great music that it is. Check it out sometime.

That’s all for now, folks. Keep being Awesome.