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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

6.8

Childish Gambino
Royalty

Let's be honest with ourselves — Camp wasn't that good. We all wanted it to be. We wanted Mr Gambino to properly come out on his debut LP (#NoFrankOcean), silence the Critically Harsh Media Outlets who insisted the rapper-comedian-writer-actor-Tumblrer was forever to be "Best Known As" Donald Glover, Chevy Chase's number one weedcarrier and Tina Fey's "sex puppet", rather than Webby Finalist and Hype Machine Chart-topper, Childish Gambino. But even though he clutched onto his winning formula — Ivy League wordplay, jackknifing punchlines with whimpering pleas of help, deep Internet Meme related references — Camp just didn't quite stick. Of course, there's several possible reasons for this: the fact it was released around the same time as Drake's "modern classic" Take Care, or the unmanageably large emo-tional adolescent baggage Mr Gambino dumped onto our laps, or (more likely) the absence of any of the brilliant wait-the-whole-bloody-song-for-the-punchline suspense we were treated to on the Freaks and Geeks EP (spoiler: it's about the Judd Apatow show being controversially cancelled only a few episodes before the end of it's first season).

Royalty isn't a return to form, but rather another route altogether. Hiding under the blanket immunity called "mixtape", Donny rips a page from Lil Wayne's well-worn playbook, replacing thought-processes, clarity and logic with obscurity, tomfoolery and left-field curved/shaved balls. He puts Danny Brown's hyperbolically unstable drawl over Britney's pop classic Toxic, gets Tina Fey to make her hip-hop cameo debut [citation required] and even convinces RZA to re-ignite his signature/tiresome evil-genius moniker for a voyage deep inside a Hypnotic Brass Ensemble jazz hole. Most exciting, however, are the two Beck-involved tracks — the dramatically unhinged Bronchitis and the clear album/2012 highlight, Silk Pillow, where Beck makes his long overdue return to the world of "rapping". Embracing a higher level of production value and overall completeness, both tracks distractingly bring forth the idea the tape's sole purpose was to showcase these two songs, rather than convince people Glover has the adequate linguistic ability to hold his own alongside Bun-B, Ghostface and Schoolboy Q.

Ultimately, Royalty offers up more questions than answers. Why didn't they just get Britney to re-record a fresh version of Toxic? What's Britney doing that's better than popping up on a Childish Gambino mixtape? Is she still occasionally on How I Met Your Mother as that crazy broad? Why didn't RZA and Ghostface take offense to Glover poking fun at the online Wu-Tang Clan Name Generator? Who is 'Swank'? And, most importantly, when are Beck and Childish Gambino going to do a full album together?

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Record Reviews
Childish Gambino

 

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