Broken Mold

I had begun to write this post way back in May during a time where sleep and I were playing hide and seek… it goes without saying (though I’m going to say it anyway) that I finally found sleep and completely forgot to get back and finish this. In the same vein, I completely neglected this blog for about the umpteenth time, which has to make me one of the worst bloggers on the face of the earth. It isn’t as if I don’t have interesting things to share, I just seem to be selfish in sharing… here I go rambling and warbling like that annoying parakeet your grandmother has at her apartment. What was the point of this post again? The ambiguous, neigh, highly obscure title gives you absolutely nothing to immediately think of. However, I hold all the cards in this situation and you’re just going to have keep reading for a few more lines. This is called “drawing readership” because I know you are all dying to know what this is about (OK, pretentiousness finished, flipped to side B for regularly scheduled blogging).

The broken mold that I want to write about tonight is how to become a successful rapper, lyricist, spitta, etc. and all the “whathaveyou’s.” Gentlemen like Rafael Casal and George Watsky are taking avenues such as slam poetry, spoken word and various forms of iambic pentameter to act as the launchpads for their burgeoning rapping careers. And while I can’t prove that they were rapping prior to my own discovery of each of these two, I do have an inkling that all of the talent, word wizardry and distinct flow lead them to the point where they thought, “maybe I should give rapping a spin.” Now take all that and follow me on a small journey through my mind and get ready for Donald Glover…  I mean, Childish Gambino, my bad. I forgot that is his pen name so his parentals don’t know what he is up to. But yes, you’re favorite actor from Community is a spitta. Yea, Derrick Comedy’s own knows how to bake hot bars.

The first time I ever saw Donald Glover (hell, I didn’t know his name. All I knew is he was the funny black guy from the comedy trio/troupe known as Derrick Comedy) was in the now famous “Bro Rape” video on YouTube that was a massive success because it was play on To Catch a Predator, or #TCAP as it is affectionately known on Twitter, and it was done hilariously. I still to this day wonder what Chad would have actually done: I mean that guy had Gamecube, Natty Ice AND Dane Cook (who is overrated; that’s right, I’m un-American)– sounds like a winning combo… except for the black dildo #datsnasty. [I hope to all that is good in this world that entire last line wasn’t too esoteric because I was pretty damn specific.] ANYWAY– after witnessing that hilarity, I just YouTube searched the rest of Derrick Comedy’s portfolio laughed heartily, favorite’d them, spread the word of their comic genius to anyone that would oblige my blather and finally when it was all said and done, I was on to the next viral sensation. However, the viral videos I saw after Derrick Comedy just didn’t compare. There was humor that was missing, a type of energy lacking and, well, no color. It was missing that Donald guy.

I had all but forgotten about Derrick Comedy and Donald Glover for the remainder of my college life (first discovered in Spring ’07) until I happened upon, what was at the time incredibly new, Community and the first thing I said (which probably what most police say): “I swear I have seen that black guy before!” And lo and behold, I’m reacquainted with Donald Glover. Since the last time I saw him, Donald had gotten a role a very good NBC program, Derrick Comedy produced a very good movie Mystery Men and he had been writing for another extremely hilarious NBC show 30 Rock. Apparently this guy was cornering the screenwriting/acting/comedy market with his exuberant personality and uncanny ability to own and be the best in any and all scenes he happened to be in. Fast-forward to late 2010, early 2011 and I beginning hearing rumbles about this cat name Childish Gambino, who had been steadily making mixtapes and gaining a small following of fans that enjoy his raw delivery, witty lyrics and passion poured over beats. Turns out Childish Gambino is none other than Donald Glover, adding rapper to his litany of employment ventures (actor, comedian, and screenwriter).

Off I went to find out what all this noise was about and I went ahead and downloaded Culdesac and I Do Not Talk (which actually after doing some research was a compilation of some of his earlier tapes: Poindexter, I Am Not a Rapper 1 and 2, and Sickboi) and began listening to CG. At first listen, as seems to be the main piece of criticism, his voice just sounded… blah… it was the nasally sound of it, the perfect enunciation (which, come on, is devoid in most artist’s repertoire) and the high pitch he operated in. Aside from those three critiqued points, Childish Gambino had a really intriguing flow, the beat selection (some great indie samples, and some that were self-produced), his punch lines were home runs and his metaphors were daggers— these are what got me hooked. I went binging, hardcore binging on CG. It was pretty much all I talked about, all I listened to and I would spit his lines in all facets of my life. Donald bared emotion throughout Culdesac (which he has noted was inspired by break-up), discussed how he was so different and eclectic from these other rappers/black people he has grown up with (an issue I can definitely relate to because of how I have grown up) on almost all of his tracks, and that his talent bridges many different mediums (television, stand-up comedy, and hip-hop).

Even more incredible is the fact that he is completely serious about rapping and desires to dedicate more time to this aspect of his career. He has stated many times through his tracklists that he raps in his free time and that if you [read: rappers] are doing this full-time, you should be embarrassed. Along with that brash statement, all one has to do is listen to the maturation of Childish Gambino from his earlier works on Sickboi, et al. to Culdesac to EP (possibly the best incarnation of CG’s flow/potential; also the video to “Freaks and Geeks” is so full of energy, how could one not want to listen him?) to notice that he has taken measured steps to change his delivery for the better, while still holding on to what makes him so different/intriguing/eclectic (I mean which rappers reference Things Fall Apart? Which rappers have even read it? I’m looking at you, Waka). A rapper’s career arc that I could make a base comparison to for Childish Gambino is Kanye West. Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that Glover will reach the height that Kanye has (though if he does, well damn son), but the work both have down in starting their careers are eerily similar. At first ‘Ye wasn’t taken seriously as a rapper because he had a goofy flow (and a wont to try and make words that don’t rhyme rhyme), one that many thought wasn’t going to stick in the game. Kanye’s response: forget y’all, I’m gonna keep doing me. And doing me he did- prior to his debut album College Dropout, Kanye produced a surplus of tracks, tapes and such that I still listen to every now and again to remind myself how far he has come. And from College Dropout throughout his discography, Kanye has transformed into one of the best around. In a similar vein, many people have been quick to write Childish Gambino off, yet he hasn’t allowed it to stop him from producing heat because the end goal for him is reaching a pinnacle of success with or without you.

So why did I write this? To hype him up? Sure, just a bit, because I’m sure there is enough CG related fodder on the internet hyping him. I just wanted to give my two cents to make sense of it all and add a different voice on the subject. Along with that, since the release of EP, it seems that Childish Gambino bandwagon has slowed and he has only put out a few tracks to my knowledge (“The Longest Text Message,” his rendition of Kanye’s [SEE THE CONNECTIONS?!?!] “All Of the Lights” entitled “Break,” and an added verse with J. Cole and Spencer Dat on “Who Dat, Part 2”) for fans to download and keep the interest high. Then again, nosotros, have to remember that he’s an actor, he was doing the IAMDONALD tour and he was making an album…

Wait, what’s that? Oh man, this hype post syncs perfectly now because he dropped the first single off Camp almost 3 weeks ago. That’s most likely the reason why I am writing this: to celebrate the different road Donald Glover/Childish Gambino took to arrive where he is as an artist, to remind you that he is still around and here to stay, and to get you ready for Camp. Sign up now, parental discretion not needed.

“Bonfire” off of Camp. Wordplay is ridiculous: “So this rap is child’s play, I do my name like Princess Di.” Stop it.

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