Traditionally, this sort of breaking-new-ground and trying-new-styles mixtape annoys me, but in the case of Childish Gambino’s October 3rd release: “STN MTN”, there’s some aspect which does quite the opposite.
Exploding outside of his norms, sampling everything from a slowed-down “U Don’t Have to Call” by Usher, to the OutKast throwback, “Spottieottiedopaliscious”, rapping over an atypical trap beat, even hilariously using Lil’ Wayne’s “Go DJ”, Childish is making a point through his eclectic resources: there’s nothing he can’t handle.
Perhaps Pitchfork’s Craig Jenkins put it best, “Donald Glover is a restless polyglot, and you can watch him tire of a medium just as he appears to get good at it.”
From his numerous and well-publicized acting successes to Camp or Because The Internet to his 2011 stand-up spree to this week’s expression of rap-game mastery, Gambino has sent his message.
Usually you don’t hear a Frozen reference two songs after a ‘Move That Dope’ remix, but that sort of reaction only further substantiates that which Childish wants to say-he can make those references and take those samples where no one else can. No, there’s no order. Gambino’s shoutout to his hometown suburb of Atlanta is not meant to be organized or consistent, but neither is he. The mixtape works for what it is just like he does, and that’s why both will continue to succeed.
“Dream / Southern Hospitality / Partna Dem”
“I had a dream I ran Atlanta.” The first words out of his mouth, Childish tells us the story of his surprise mixtape. In the trisected first track of Childish’s surprise release, he gives us insight into the informal. With nearly a minute-long intro, Gambino articulates the details of his fairytale. Later on, he progresses to touch all topics from contemporary anti-meritocracy he sees today to autonomy and originality . Despite his beyond niche intro, the references, beats, and samples put into this song put it at the top of my list for the mixtape.
I can’t believe he rapped over this. In his DJBooth review of the mixtape, Lucas Garrison accurately encapsulates my reaction upon hearing this track.
Sounds like a good trap song–weird. Gambino rapping on this beat is just wrong; he’s trying to prove that he can handle the beat, and whether or not he does so rhythmically isn’t my point, but the lyrics simply don’t fit for Childish. Do we really need him of all rappers to speak about apathy, independence, and how he doesn’t care–does he really see that role unfulfilled in the rap industry?
“No Small Talk (ft. Kari Faux)”
No doubt, Kari Faux takes over this track same as she takes over her “Laugh Now, Die Later” EP released earlier in 2014; if she appeals to you in this song, that EP is on soundcloud. Surprisingly, though, Gambino is showing a refreshing aptitude for this mixtape’s out-of-genre beat. This one of the worst songs again not because I’m questioning Gambino’s ability to handle a beat outside of his comfort zone, but rather because I’m questioning whether he is on this track as much as Kari Faux is. It simply doesn’t sound like it’s a song from his mixtape.