As if this headline weren’t ridiculous enough, watch the footage of Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino acting…well, childish. This is all part of a performance meant to hype a crowd in Sydney, Australia and to live precisely in a moment. But, the actor-turned-rapper is often so caught up in his own internet self-awareness (i.e. titling last year’s proper debut Because The Internet) that it’s hard to believe this was all spontaneous. What does he stand to gain from name-dropping? Check the video after the jump.
As far as freestyles go, this is not very good but it is somehow continuous. Credit for that. He say ‘niggas know’ a bunch of times, which when increased, proportionally binds up a freestyle where it should be free. In total, it’s only a source of intrigue as a look into Glover’s not-so-hidden narcissism and fame-seeking. Not to cut him down, because others have done that better and with more investment in the issue, but he doesn’t register as a rap star or even a music mainstay. Giving him the attention for this publicity gesture (not a stunt because it wasn’t compulsive; no way it could be as he’s too deliberate for that) is the tragedy here. The catchy “3005,” which has topped US and UK Charts, is probably the best representation of him: a Drake derivative, mildly clever in fits and flirty with internet nerd fanaticism. Except it’s in hip-hop culture so there’s a subversive element.
But all of the groundwork he’s laid to be something of his own — however similar that is to something that exists — really vanishes when he puts himself in the same class as artists who are doubtless way way more defined. He’s done this before too, shifting attention to a big picture that includes themes of notoriety, loneliness, and machismo. He gets all meta on us when most would just prefer him not to distract from the thing that he’s barely doing well enough: making songs. The real danger is in Glover (or Gambino) thinking that taking on this part of hip-hop oneupmanship will elevate him more than, for instance, dropping a hot freestyle in front of his screaming fans. That’s a feat he has yet to accomplish.