Top positive review
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"We were Childish, but we had to grow up"
on December 22, 2013
Let me rave for just a minute.
This has got to be one of best albums I've ever heard. Of course Camp was great, but this is a completely different animal – one that feels more troubled, lost, and even dangerous than Camp ever did. The first thing the listener is struck with is how experimental the album is – from the grand scale (the song groupings, the screenplay [becausetheinter.net]) to the intimate (the sax solo on Worldstar, the beginning of Telegraph Ave.). Lemme go through this song by song:
1/2. The Library/Crawl: This song starts angry and takes no prisoners. To be honest, nothing in "Crawl" resonates with me that strongly – that is, until the driving beat suddenly drops out and the hook is sung once again, with only a cello played behind it. Gives me chills every time. The screaming is also on point.
3. Worldstar: As a saxophone player, the solo at the end of this one really wins my respect. Gambino isn't afraid to take risks, and this song shows it. I feel like this one gets more and more chaotic as it goes on – starting with a conventional (per se) trap beat and eventually descending into a frantic exploration of man's love for violence. Plus, I loooove the way he says "My girl ain't bad/ she more like evil."
4/5. Dial Up/The Worst Guys: "Dial Up" is much better once you read the screenplay. The Worst Guys is one that I love a LOT – but I can't really say why. Childish has a great rap, the concluding guitar solo is wonderful....somehow, everything just comes together on this one.
6. Shadows: It's so great to hear real instruments be predominant in a modern hip hop song. This one is just very, very soulful, and the turnaround halfway through is genius. His singing, in particular, really shines on this track.
7. Telegraph Ave: WOW. This format of this one is inspired. The song begins with Childish getting into his car and turning on the radio, at which point the song starts playing. He begins to sing along sporadically, and eventually the track transforms into his own – he "claims" it. "Foot on the gas, I'm just trying to pass/All the red lights, and the stop signs..." This is a deeply melancholic song, but something about his delivery (and maybe the place I'm at in my life) makes it SO relatable. 10/10.
8. Sweatpants: I'll be quick. This one is creative, sharp, frantic, and contains some of the best one-liners in the album. EE EE EE EE ONOMATOPOEIA.
9. 3005: the fact that this is labelled the "single" of the album doesn't make it any less smart or unusual. What is debatably the most cheerful hook on the album disguises another confused and troubled rap. This one, though, ultimately ends on a happy note, and never fails to put a smile on my face. "3005" ends the song arc that began with "The Worst Guys."
10/11. Playing Around Before the Party Starts/The Party: Wow. This is a high point in the album. I've heard PABTPS described as claustrophobic, and I think that's a perfect description for it. And then the wavering, hair-rasing bass comes in as The Party starts...and then Childish raps...oh my gosh. Even though it only lasts for about 30 seconds, it is the most intense, blistering verse on the album. Wow.
12. No Exit: Childish sounds completely deranged on this one. In a good way. This is probably the best possible way he could've followed up to The Party. Best line: "Man, there's a star bound to a body inside of me/20 million degrees, burn a man to his knees."
13. Death by Numbers: Meh. Short, not much to talk about. Good transition.
14. Flight of the Navigator: I could write for a LONG time about this one. This track is absolutely gorgeous, in a profoundly unsettling and creepy way. The lyrics are absolutely gorgeous, as is Gambino's singing and Ludwig's guitar playing. Hell, just go listen to it. I know I was moved the first time. I'd also label this song the second most experimental on the album.
15. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information): I'd label this the most experimental song on the album. It's when the song jarringly transforms from gorgeous and stripped down to fierce and powerful at 1:20 that you get the feeling you're hearing something special. Gambino's second verse is probably my favorite on the album – philosophical, clever, and personal.
16. Urn: This one is just beautiful. Donald stated in an interview that this is his favorite track on the album, and I can kinda see why. There's a LOT of emotion packed into this 1:13.
17. Pink Toes: this is the only song that I don't feel strongly towards. I do love Jhene Aiko's singing part...but the singing that Childish does is just mediocre. I don't know, maybe YOU will feel differently about it. Give it a shot.
18. Earth: The Oldest Computer: I LOVE this one. It's less experimental than the rest of the album, but it's just as sharp. The beat gets your blood pumping, Gambino's bars are driving, and the end is chaotic, but perfect for the song. There's also a very well-delivered line which gives the date "3005" more importance in the grand scheme of the album.
19. Life: The Biggest Troll: What an ending. This song gives the listener a glimpse of the raw, tortured place Gambino's at right now while also offering some very clear-sighted wisdom and even advice. And then the ending...it's creepy, uncomfortable, but above all HONEST – and I think it's the best thing Gambino could've possibly concluded his album with.
Everyone is hurt. Everyone is bruised, confused, and looking for meaning. Gambino has the courage that so many artists lack to show his weakness. And what an album he has crafted with it. 10/10.