Childish Gambino is a rapper who separates opinions, on one hand his enigmatic flows and stage presence would normally bring in glory and passion from fans yet speaking to peers (shout out to @YoYoni) that he comes across as a little soft or fake? Heading to XOYO last night I found myself pondering these feelings, me, a big fan of Donald Glover the actor and Childish Gambino the rapper i find myself very much swayed on the opposite fence, I think Gambino is exactly what Hip Hop needs, a follow on from Kanye’s College Dropout, a black guy who can jump into the shoes of all different types of racial stereotypes, tell stories and mock them all in the same breath.
“I Used to Dream every night, now I never dream at all” an analysis that kicks of his album ‘CAMP’ and also the show it’s a very harsh introspective lyric on the track Outside that not only merges choir singing, violins and harsh rap lyrics but manages to open a show with massive crowd participation, eager to be involved the I will admit not very hip hop crowd, a mixture of asian, black, white and any other race you can think off, Blu was even asked who Kendrick Lamar was whilst the DJ warmed up, another Indian guy asked if we knew Donald from his raps or his television appearances on the impressive Community and 30 Rock, a true stan knows both (YodaBlu). It was definately a diverse show, but more on that later.
Continuing in with some earlier tracks from EP’s and Mixtape’s including the crowd favourite ‘Freaks And Geeks’ which allowed Gambino to flex his lyrical muscles and get the crowd amped up, Me especially, elbowing girls and all sorts; apologies ladies. Flow after flow Childish is more than just a rapper, he’s a showman; his stand up comedy prior to blowing up in music definately suits the concert setting, his interaction with the crowd always brought a laugh; noticing a girl he accidentally elbowed in the face at his last show in London (see me and Donald are the same, proud moment) and making a laugh about it, “sorry baby” he’s also a ladies man by the way, that’s pretty darn hip hop if you ask me.
Tracks like LES and Firefly go down well and it’s clear the crowd are here to see their man, not just to make the numbers up, the show sold out in 4 minutes by the way, a sign of the pulling power he holds. Multiple singalongs and arm waves later came Heartbeat, not only a story of missed or lost love, but a track that really holds the crowds attention, singing in a high falsetto (not very hip hop, or maybe it is?) and fusing it with deep harsh lyrics the track is the perfect Gambino song, the track to play to friends if you want to get them hooked, it worked with the crowd, we went wild, I led a minor charge to front I wont lie.
Then came the lead single from the album Bonfire that caused mass hysteria between pretty much all members of the crowd, Blu always had a fight, I ended up rubbing on a man (not something i’m entirely happy with, but its a concert, sssh) and barricades always pushed over it was an epic moment, a real defining moment in my adoration for him, he looked genuinely humbled by the experience.
Encore started mic on the floor the man of the hour rolled up and rapped a dope freestyle to Rack City (10′s 10′s 10′s 20′s on them titties bitch) then jumping straight into the new tape (out yesterday) ROYALTY, playing some unreleased music and first time performances it was a treat for those real fans, one fan even rapping along to a track he just heard on the morning of the show.
So what is Childish Gambino, to me he is one of this generations most important cultural figures, a talented entrepreneur, stand up comic, writer, actor and most important a pretty darn good rapper. Being able to fill a crowd of so many different races and bringing them in unison is very admirable, a challenge conquered by the Glover. A role model I think all young people should be looking up too, he embodies that can-do spirit that we all should have within ourselves.
Donald Glover I salute you for being a pioneer.