Thursday, November 10, 2011

‘Camp’ boasts spectacular vernacular

Student reviews rap album, criticizes overdone agressiveness

By Justin Buchanan, Sports Editor

Donald Glover's, who goes by the stage name Childish Gambino, latest release “Camp” should put current rap kings such as Jay-Z and Lil’ Wayne on alert.

Gambino’s “Camp” is an aggressive, but occasionally sweet, rap album that should appeal to his current followers as well as garner him more mainstream attention.

“Camp” kicks off with the track “Outside.” Backed by a bass-heavy drum beat and gospel singers, Gambino shows his listeners how his childhood and race affected him.

“Outside’s” first lines speak, “I used to dream every night and now I never dream at all, I’m hoping it’s cause I’m livin’ everything I want.” Gambino speaks to his family life and black stereotypes. He raps, “The street took you over, I want my cousin back. The world sayin’ what you are ‘cause you’re young and black.”

Gambino mixes up the sound of “Camp” with the pop- and dupstep- influenced track “Heartbeat.” The bass line wobbles as Gambino sings the chorus and raps the verses.

The standout track is “Bonfire,” in which Gambino calls out all his haters. A siren screams at the start to grab the listener's attention followed by a huge bass drop.

Gambino makes no apologies to anyone who questions his sexuality, race or social class. Gambino spits “Yeah, they say they want the realness, rap about my real life. Told me I should just quit, ‘first of all you talk white.'”

Throughout the album, Gambino deploys numerous metaphors and pop-culture references making “Camp’s” themes diverse. Analogies range from the children’s cartoon “Invader Zim” to the horror film “Human Centipede.” In doing this, “Camp” avoids the repetitiveness that plagues rap today.

However, these varied premises can make the album difficult to understand for listeners not well versed in pop-culture.

"Camp’s" biggest weakness at times is its over-aggressiveness. Some of Gambino’s rhymes just don’t mix well with the beat. In particular, “You See Me” uses a slow reminiscent of the movie "Jaws'" bass line, but Gambino's rapping is too fast, making the song uncomfortable to listen to.

“Camp” is a great album in which Gambino wears his heart on his sleeve, connecting to his audience. His word play is unmatched, but can overwhelm some.

Gambino is not yet king of the rap game, but the current kings should beware of dethronement.

“Camp” drops Nov. 15. It costs $7.99 on Amazon.com.