Artist: Childish Gambino
For his commercial debut, actor/screenwriter/stand-up comedian/rapper Donald Glover has produced a record as diverse and formidable as his CV.
The record is seeped in discomfort about Glover’s own identity, as he tackles critics who have claimed that he isn’t ‘black enough’ to rap. With defiance and wit on ‘Backpackers’ and ‘Hold You Down’, and with tales of his youth on ‘Outside’, he shows he certainly has the talent.
Even when he’s dealing in the crude bravado of ‘Bonfire’, his super-concentrated pop culture references are solidly entertaining. The short, string-led ‘Letter Home’ is a surprisingly genuine, delicate love song, cancelled out by the grating ‘Heartbeat’, wherein Glover struggles to keep a straight face about a complicated relationship. He hits a highpoint on closer ‘That Power’, with a moving narrative about an adolescent love. For the variety of approaches he employs, it’s an endearingly consistent record.
In a Nutshell: A strong showing from a unique voice in rap.