Childish Gambino, Camp

Dan Hyman

By Dan Hyman

on 11.15.11 in Reviews


Childish Gambino
Effectively blurring the line between comedy and confession

“Why does every black actor gotta rap some?” Donald Glover ponders on “Bonfire,” the most aggressive, forthright cut from his largely self-produced debut. The Community actor, performing under the moniker Childish Gambino, is quick to point out his own misgivings — he’s not “black enough” to be hood and has been called “gay” by his detractors. But rather than pout, Glover uses his seething wit and hyperventilating rhyme patterns as critical silencers. Ever the comedian, he drops unapologetic zingers with ease (“Made the beat retarded/ Called it a slow jam”). And while his misadventures in sexting (“Heartbeat”) and grey-tinted musings (“L.E.S.”) reek of Drake-flavored noir, the album’s jazzy runs — see the lush “Hold You Down” — and soulful hooks are undeniably winning; not to mention Glover’s reference-packed bars and unapologetic come-ons, which clearly evoke Kanye West circa The College Dropout. Where West pined for commiseration, Glover basks in his inadequacies; effectively blurring the line between comedy and confession.