Donald Glover, the writer, producer, comedian, actor and of course, rapper has released a new mixtape/EP entitled STN MTN/Kauai under the name Childish Gambino. Although many people across the world either love him or hate him as an artist, it’s always been very hard to slant him on his ambition. His last album ‘Because The Internet’ saw him moving away from the pure wittiness of his first album and moving onto more socially conscience topics, like exploring the ways in which the internet affects people. He also paired the album with a script over 70 pages long to give some context to the story of the album. Though many people poked holes in it, it was hard to fault his ambition and seemed like a step forward.
So enter the mixtape ‘STN MTN’, a mixtape dedicated to the suburb he grew up in, in Atlanta. The tape has him dreaming that one day he’d be ruling Atlanta and ultimately makes the point over and over about how he’s ‘Just doing what he wants to do’. He also makes a point that in his dreams he gets a Gansta Grillz mixtape with DJ Drama all over it. Fair enough, not exactly the same ambition as ‘because the internet’ but I was personally interested to see what else he would spit about. turns out, not much else. The main selling point he is going for on this mixtape is the fact that he has sampled SO many artists to make it sound like he is on this Gansta Grillz mixtape. Honestly if you take these beats on their own, they’re fine, but with Gambino over the top they feel so unbelievably out of place. Every time DJ Drama opens his mouth I want to punch him in it. Gambino spends much of the time on this tape just basically sounding so self indulgent and like he’s taken a step back from ‘because the internet’, he has a lot of witty punchlines as per usual but it all just sounds like an imitative copy of southern Hip-Hop.
The EP attached to this project ‘Kauai’ is a completely different sound, and is the one that most Gambino fans seem to be gravitating towards more. On the first track on here you can here why, the beat sounds much more in line with his previous projects with it being heavily influenced by trap music. Gambino spends this whole EP singing in his signature whine, which many people loved every now and again on previous projects. But for a whole EP of him doing the best Frank Ocean impression he can, it becomes EXTREMELY tedious. Especially when none other than Jaden Smith turns up to do some spoken word about some girl over the top of some bloody bongo drums (ooo edgy) on TWO of the tracks on here, it’s enough to make you wince. Especially when you realise he’s meant to be playing the main character of the narrative on here, it makes it even harder to relate in any way. At least with this EP it was generally put together a lot better ‘STN MTN’ , and there are a handful of very interesting beats which is an area where he shined in on his last album.
Unless you are completely invested in everything Donald Glover does, this mixtape/EP comes off as a definite step back for him. Praise is definitely due on the fact that he still has the ambition to put out stuff with such diversity. But the general execution ends up really lacking any sort of depth or any of those steps forward that he made on his last record. It’s so frustrating knowing that he has the potential to do better. Luckily this isn’t his official third album, and who knows, this could just be some sort of experiment for him. I wouldn’t put it past him, this man is always up to something.