Friday, March 11, 2011
On Repeat: Childish Gambino - Freaks and Geeks
Yes, Childish Gambino is Troy from Community. I know you've been duped by actors turned rappers before, but don't let the Joaquin Phoenixes of the world spoil it for everyone. Especially don't let the quirky name and hipster glasses give you the wrong impression of Donald Glovers talent or style. He can rap around anyone and he knows it, every song taking square aim at anyone who doubts his sincerity or dismiss him entirely. His hyper-literate rap and breakneck delivery bring to mind an Ivy-league Busta Rhymes, but you'd be mistaken if you assume this means "clean", it just makes his wordplay sharper (know any other rappers who namedrop poet ee cummings or Spiderman villians?). The trajectories of indie music and hip-hop have been converging for years now, with collaborations and covers emerging on a daily basis, but the phenomenon finally reached its natural conclusion last year when Childish Gambino released his I Am Just A Rapper mixtapes that had him rapping over popular indie tracks. That may not have done much to establish his street cred, but it certainly got the blogs atwitter.
Last week, he released EP, a collection of 5 songs with beats he made himself that he somehow made between filming Community and his stand-up tour. Someone with such a busy schedule has no business excelling in so many areas. The songs are incredibly strong, jam-packed with wordplay that doesn't sink-in until the 5th listen and beats that compare favorably to anything Kanye and Wayne are rapping on. "Freaks and Geeks" is the best amalgam of his talents, and the best approximation of a straight hip-hop track. Strings, snares and handclaps assemble into a beat that would fit nicely on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The verbiage is sharp and hilarious, while still remaining venomous and confident. Some wordplay is so complex that he tries to explain it midsong before getting exasperated and moving on to his next verse. I'll take rhymes that fly over my head any day. Here's to hoping he never dumbs himself down.