Review: because the internet
by YeezyTaughtYouWell


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Writer’s note: for the purposes of this review I am disregarding the screenplay, but I recommend that you read and listen if you have the time. It makes for a different experience

When we last left Childish Gambino (ROYALTY not withstanding), he was a jilted teenage boy full of secrets, trapped on a bus with no one around to confess to. But when the boy finally manages to escape the mythical bus to forever, no one wants to listen. He’s too close, and their attention is focused on phantoms a million miles away

I read somewhere that because the internet is partly inspired by the thesis that technology fosters social isolation. I can certainly see why that might be the case; there is an undercurrent of fear and isolation that runs throughout the album. But these are not the same fears that blanketed Camp – the fears of authenticity, the fears of identity, the fears of honesty, of intimacy…

…okay, so maybe Gambino does have (some of) the same fears. But how we experience those fears changes, and Gambino wants no illusions that he’s the same person who wandered the sunlight forests of the Camp album cover two years past. Perspective is everything

Because the internet feels like a much more complete album than Camp. There were times on the previous LP that I felt like Gambino’s temperament wasn’t synching up with beats playing behind him. There is none of that on bti – Gambino and his tracks are always on the same page. Gambino, along with co-conspirator and producer Ludwig Göransson, have crafted a much colder, more electronic sound for this album to reflect its title and subject matter, but despite the cooling effect, bti’s beats manage to capture the best parts of Camp’s lushness and ROYALTY’s grit. The duo’s craftsmanship has also made the album tonally consistent and cohesive. Given the popular trend of slapping a bunch of disparate singles together and throwing them out to the general public, it’s always nice to hear music from someone who has an eye (or rather an ear) out for crafting the whole album experience

More importantly, Gambino has gained a greater confidence and sensibility in his writing and his flows (and his hooks!), something which was teased in ROYALTY but really shines through here. One of the things that I’ve liked about Gambino is his ability to seamlessly flip between bullish braggadocio and serious introspection without it seeming jarring or insincere. Yeah, he’s making bank. Yeah, he’s got hot Asian girlfriends, and real estate, and kush growing up the wall. But he spends so much time in the studio, he doesn’t have time for loved ones. He spends so much time staring at his phone, he forgets how to have conversations IRL. Gambino blew up because: the internet, brought countless others into his circle of friendship and fandom, and yet that has only brought him a greater sense of loneliness and isolation. The dirty truth is that the internet allows us to know everything about each other and know jack shit at the same time. It allows us to chunk our life into meaningless snippets and allow others to anonymously burn us to the ground

So why do we even bother going online? Why subject ourselves to such numbing stimuli? Because the internet, even at its worst, is still a welcome escape from life, the biggest troll of all. Fame and money won’t make things better, just different – take it from someone who knows

Verdict: Library Staple (Classic)/Great Buy/Buy/Listen, Then Buy/For Diehards Only/Let That Shit Burn

- because the internet is a solid sophomore album that shows heartening progress from a rising artist

Listen to: “Shadows,” “Telegraph Ave,” “3005,” “No Exit,” “Earth: The Oldest Computer,” “Life: The Biggest Troll”

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