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Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino is very much a product of “Internet rap,” or as the title of his last album would tell you, he exists as an emcee Because The Internet. With the release of that project, he embraced online culture completely, releasing an interactive screenplay / short film built around the album. The album was a series of experimental tracks that showcased his talents as both an emcee and a singer.

To everyone’s surprise, he saw two of that album’s tracks blow up, “3005″ and “Telegraph Ave,” hitting mainstream radio without the need to hire hot producers, guest artists, or follow standard go-to formulas. This all came after an announcement last year that he was leaving his cush NBC gig as a star on Community to pursue rap full time. This is a bit like putting the cart before the horse, as most rappers want to leave the game to act. But he did it, and it worked.

At surface value, his new mixtape / EP combination project may seem like a bit of a departure from the material on his last album, as he bills the STN MTN (pronounced “Stone Mountain”) portion as a Gangsta Grillz mixtape, even having it hosted by DJ Drama. And it might seem like that at first, but what this really is, is conceptual album masquerading as a mixtape, and more aptly, a love letter to his hometown of Atlanta. This is all revealed in the album’s opening and unfolds as the project progresses.

Set up as a “Dream” which finds him as the hottest rapper from the ATL, Gambino spits over a series of dirty south hits, such as Ludacris’ “Southern Hospitality” and Future’s “Move That Dope,” as well as forgotten local cuts like “Partna Dem” and “Nectel Chirp.” He gives making authentic Atlanta rap a serious try, with songs like the Ca$h Out influenced “Money Baby,” “AssShots (Remix),” and “All Yall.” The difference is, he’s delivering intricately penned lyrical bars, yet over beats that sound like they should have some kind of disposable dance attached to them.

It’s clear he’s half-joking about the whole mixtape concept on the “Childish Gambino @ The Atrium” sketch (we won’t spoil it here), but also serious about this dedication to his hometown with his cover of Usher’s “U Don’t Have to Call.”

Ultimately it’s an experiment that finds him trying something new and seeing what the reaction is. It’s brilliantly played, because if it’s panned, he can simply say he was “Trolling, trolling, trolling these n***as,” as he said on Because The Internet‘s “Life…The Biggest Troll.” But if it works-like how “3005″ happened to naturally catch fire-he can continue down this path. And its likely he will.

And make no mistake, this is all part of Gambino’s campaign to become King of The Internet (Rappers), which he is succeeding in. The delivery of this mixtape and accompanying EP plays into that, especially with the album’s secret track, an acapella of a “3005″ remix buried in the deep web, which was discovered by Reddit users. Syncing up this acapella to the instrumental beat of the Kuaui EP’s “V. 3005 (Beach Picnic Version)” rewards fans with a fully realized remix of his hit record.

The antics don’t stop there either, on “Pop Thieves,” a catchy 80′s R&B tune, he toys with the listener with the following lyric: “Now that we have found this love, baby / These haters can’t say shit / I know sometimes it’s hard when I’m so far / I know you miss this di love.” This purposely, poorly edit of the word “dick” is him again trolling the audience, and it’s pretty hilarious.

He spends much of the EP showing off his vocal chops, and while Drake comparisons will be inevitable, he’s actually much closer to Pharrell. This comes off in the production and in his vocal style, as heard on “Retro [ROUGH]” and “The Palisades.” The case is made even on the STN MTN half, as two of the songs he covered are Neptunes produced (“Southern Hospitality”, “U Don’t Have to Call”).

Upon first listen, STN MTN seems like a sloppy mess of freestyles and unfinished tracks, while Kauai comes off like a brief EP with too much singing and too many skits. But when put together, something magic happens and a whole album is born. Childish Gambino has captivated his audience with a unique blend of song-writing, vocal talent, and practical jokes; maybe leaving NBC for rap wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

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3 Responses to "Childish Gambino – “STN MTN / Kauai” – @@@@ [Review]"
  • Hodges says:

    “Sober” is my shit.

  • khordkutta says:

    Im sure Im late, but if yall are too, make sure you ck the movie Myster Team.

  • chicagorado says:

    haven’t listened to this yet, but he was on the show Community, not Parks & Rec

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