This new Gambino track is remarkable.
Count me a career-long fan of Donald Glover’s hip-hop alter ego of Childish Gambino — ranging from his rapping over popular indie jams in I Am Just A Rapper parts 1 and 2; to his first self-released Cul De Sac; to his EP and first big hit of “Freaks and Geeks” (what a great video right?); to his first label release and true breakout of Camp. Even when the dude slightly disappointed with mixtape Royalty, the enthusiasm never flickered (and definitely didn’t fade). His live persona, one I’ve experienced live 5 times (my personal record, and once with Chance The Rapper long before knowing his potential), is one that consistently offers something fresh. In a way Gambino echoes Kanye in that’s never afraid to try something different.
And I’ll firmly stand behind calling Because The Internet one of the best albums of the decade (so far). From the wonderful, eclectic musical production…to the sometimes fun, sometimes political, always quick-witted rhymes…to the album’s 4 part conceptual structure that all builds to the subtle, yet impactful closer of “Life: The Biggest Troll.” Yeah, the album’s long — but it never feels slow, quickly progressing through unique, but somehow traditional rap/hip-hop beats like in “Worldstar” and “Sweatpants,” to the smooth and subtle soul jam “Urn,” with a level of urgency.
Gambino’s new track, “Me and Your Mama,” definitely builds on that soul sound found in tracks like “Urn” — only this time it’s more refined and much less subtle. Starting slow and familiar, the production is smooth and clearly g-funk influenced with high pitched synthesizer tones accompanying trap drums and finger snapping. A sweet, soft sounding choir accompanies Gambino as he provides some simple “la la la” vocal stylings.
Then, out of nowhere and at the 2 minute mark, the soft beat disappears, and is replaced with a thick, distorted guitar sound that seems ripped right out a White Stripes song, Gambino singing his ass off in a way I’ve never heard him deliver before. Accompanied by a gospel choir, the combo creates a sound that’s deep, soulful, raspy; it’s some shit Charles Bradley would be proud of. Again, this is a Gambino I’ve never heard before, one who wants to challenge the critics who have hated on his singing before. You can hear the particular pain in his voice when he sings, “They want to see us falling apart/You know that I love you/So let me into you heart.” You can picture him falling to his knees in the studio with the mic pressed to his face as he screams a moment later. Then, abruptly, it halts, and we’re left with smooth production aping the start of the track, drifting off until the end.
Let’s note this. Gambino does not rap on the track; I am hesitant to even call it hip-hop, and it’s the first track from the album. An intro? Does he rap on it all? Probably, but who knows. December 2nd cannot come soon enough.