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Camp (Album Review)
Released 15 November 2011
56:06 in length
1.) Outside —— 3.5/5
2.) Fire Fly —— 4/5
3.) Bonfire —— 4.5/5
4.) All the Shine —— 3.5/5
5.) Letter Home
6.) Heartbeat —— 4/5
7.) Backpackers —— 4.75/5
8.) L.E.S. —— 3.75/5
9.) Hold You Down —— 3.5/5
10.) Kids —— 3.25/5
11.) You See Me —— 5/5
12.) Sunrise —— 3.5/5
13.) That Power —— 3.5/5
Outside is a solid album opener. It hits the right topics that set up the rest of the album, packed with solid production and ever witty lyrics. One of the better hooks on the whole album, it’s virtually a recorded choir. Gambino tells us a brief story of his childhood.
The second track off of Camp is Fire Fly. It may be the only track that doesn’t necessarily fit with the rest of the album – at least production wise. It sounds like it should be on a KRIT track. It’s another quality track that shows off CG’s high writing ability. We learn more about Gambino’s newly found famous life with lines like “Girls used to tell me I ain’t cool enough / Now text me pics sayin’ “You could tear this up.”
Now we’ve come to one of the most talked about tracks of the summer… And it doesn’t disappoint. Bonfire is an example of Childish Gambino’s true rapping ability. He cranks out intelligent punch line after punch line. This is what Lil Wayne wishes he could write. The production is spot on and again, I can’t stress enough how strong the writing is. You’d think he took two hours per bar. The only beef that I have with the song, and trust me – it’s hardly a beef, is that it sounds a little like a Wayne song. The way he drops in on the beat and the whole flow in general is a little Wayne-esque. But the fact that he trumps Wayne’s metaphors five to one makes up for any negative thought I have of the track. Superb.
Coming off of such a hot, spot on track like Bonfire, the follow up may be a little disappointing. All the Shine has some great elements to it, the production, the content, the writing, the flow… But this is the first track that we’ve come across that shows the album’s one and only downside; Gambino singing his own hooks. With vocal effects on, it’s very tolerable, but with nothing on, Gambino’s raw singing level is extremely average. Any Joe in the world could do this hook. It’s distracting how average it is. It’s not what he’s singing, it’s how he’s singing. I can get over his awkward rapping voice very quickly, but his singing is something that I can’t look through.
Letter Home is track five and could almost be seen as an interlude. It features purely singing – which again, without effects is oh so average. It’s quiet and slow and sets up the next song well.
Now we have Gambino opening with some singing with some vocal effects on, which is something he should have been doing throughout. Heartbeat has some awesome production. It almost sounds like I’m listening to an early Justice track. As always, the content and writing is extraordinary. The song hints on Gambino’s thought process when it comes to women; how nerve racking it is and explains the ups and downs.
Backpackers. Yes, yes. Yes. I love any artist that isn’t afraid to tear apart an entire clique of people in their music. Backpackers does just that; he lays into everyone that’s down talked him over the last year. Other than an excellent topic to rap about, the production is yet again, spot fucking on. The song features one of Gambino’s better flows and per standard, supreme writing. It also helps that the chorus had some vocal effects on it. Definitely a highlight.
Another track knocking hipsters – which I will always favor. L.E.S. apparently, stands for Lower East Side, which would be where hipsters in New York like to dwell. The whole song is pretty damn funny, because hipsters suck. Gambino’s singing in the hook has some more effects on it, which is a plus. The production features a killer violin, not to be confused with a violin come to life and literally killing people. His flow is a little choppy on this one, but it isn’t ever unbearable. The fact that it knocks hipsters and has some awesome production save the mediocrity of the rest of the song, but don’t let that confuse you, this shit isn’t bad… And it’s not shit either.
And before you know it, we’re on the ninth track off of Camp, listening to Hold You Down. Big production, good storytelling, fantastic content, amazing writing; this song seems to have it all, right? Wrong. Gambino singing his own hooks is still an issue. It pulls the overall song down in the long run.
It sounds like Childish Gambino really tried on this one with his singing. It might be the best he put on in the whole album, but again, it falls short of being anything above average. Kids has more stellar production and some pretty good writing with Gambino’s typical flow. The xylophone is cool; something I haven’t heard in actual music since GUSH.
Motherfuck. Did Gambino get some points from Kanye? You See Me sure hits like a ‘Ye track. The flow is top notch, the ridiculousness of the content is top notch, the fucking beat is griiiimey (top notch), and the chorus has Gambino with some effects on, which is highly preferred. Holy shit this song is good. “Can I stay at your place? No hobo.” I can only imagine that this song was made to be a single. The last verse is an eyebrow raiser; Gambino actually speeds up his flow. A lot. The song’s downside is that it’s only 3:15 in length; another hook/verse would have been incredible.
After being a little upset that You See Me had to end so soon, I needed to pause the album for a second to give Sunrise it’s proper listen. The production rivals some 80s pop music; I can picture white people doing that weird dance where the hips just turn and the feet step out… CG’s writing ability is the real shine on this track. The rest is a little average when compared to the rest of the album.
With a title like That Power, I was half expecting another Kanye like track much like You See Me. Not quite. However, the final track on Camp doesn’t disappoint. The production, much like the rest of the album is very good. Gambino’s writing ability, content included, is still on point. He really did hit the nail on the head with his “So it’s 400 blows to these Truffaut niggas” line. He even calls it the line of the century shortly after. The interesting part of the song is definitely the outro. It’s a spoken word story and the listener isn’t sure who Gambino is talking to at times, but still in the end, the moral of the story is pretty damned good. It shows that he’s still very youthful at heart and makes you think what else we’ve got in store.
First and foremost, if Childish Gambino were to ever read this, thank you for not having features on the album. Now onto my opinions… His writing ability is through the goddamn roof. If Wayne set the bar for punch line rappers of the decade, Childish Gambino just throatfucked it. Littered with pop culture, puns and entendres, Gambino’s references are on another level; and camp showcases his talents. But this is all something I had an idea of before going into it. What really shocked me is the album’s production. It really is something that shouldn’t be looked over. However, after multiple listens, his singing is the only thing that I didn’t like. It certainly isn’t terrible, but as I said in just about every song, it’s so average. When he uses effects, it helps move the song along and doesn’t bog it down with aforementioned thoughts of the singing. If you can look through the singing or enjoy it, then I don’t see how you couldn’t have a classic album here. But to me, as expressed, the singing is inexcusable. Childish Gambino, Donald Glover, is fucking good. He’s multitalented and knows where his strong points are. I am now a fan of just about everything he does. Camp should open some eyes; Gambino isn’t a rapper to be looked over.
(Special note: Lil Wayne – take note of this kids writing, you under achieving turd.
Final Ratings: 47/60 = 78% =
Nice critical review 6x
I swear, you should be crowned THE review maker. Another incredible review, thank you. Also, I agree with what you’re saying. I loved how Childish Gambino did the whole album by himself, without any guest appearances. I really enjoyed it all the way through, very solid album. And I could bare the singing, haha
Very good, 6x. But I’m not quite sure I understand how “Hold You Down” didn’t rank AT LEAST a 4. I agree that the singing does do some damage to it, but I think you put a little bit more weight than I would have. Just my opinion.
But overall, spot on. Great work and nice review.
I respect C. Gambino for doing this shit solo and not featuring people, but if he didn’t want to use effects on the singing, he could have recruited some people for hooks. Just my opinion though, and the album is still very good.
Wayne sonned Gambino; the flow, the style, the voice. I appreciate the album and I’m a DongLover fan, but you can’t hate Weezy and love Childish, while at the same time being honest about why you’re doing both.
That said, I enjoyed the song by song breakdown in your review. It was very cohesive and gives me a pretty great understanding of your opinions on the album. Great job! Thanks!
I definitely acknowledge that they’re both punchline rappers. But Wayne’s lines have become less and less interesting over the last few years, and now it’s to the point where they’re horrid. That’s why I’m knocking Wayne. Gambino’s writing is far superior, regardless of who came first.
Had he enlisted, I don’t know, John Legend or Ne-Yo to sing the hooks instead of him, would your score be higher? And by “vocal effects”, do you mean distortion and reverb? Because there really wasn’t a lot of that on Camp.
And 6x is right. I would definitely say “If I’m a faggot, spell it right, I got way more than 2 G’s” is far superior to “What goes around comes around like a hula hoop”, or “Haters can’t see me: nose-bleed seats”, or, fuck, anything off of “She Will”. And that line is perhaps one of the weaker punchlines off of “You See Me”.
Great review of a great album…i think CG will be around for a loooooooooong time.
Comparing Wayne and CG is easy for me. Both voices are annoying, but bearable however Gambino’s lines are just smarter, force you to think, and have meaning in his own life + possibly yours.
For those reasons, CG is superior, easily.
Am I the only one who actually enjoyes Gambino’s voice? I have nothing against it.
It just sounds weird.
Just finished this album. The reason why this review is so solid is because you ranked every song and got 4/5. I, meanwhile, didn’t do it, but would give this one 4/5. Thank you 6x, awesome job.
Yes Klonopin, that is in fact what I mean by vocal effects. And it would have been incredible if he recruited anyone with a good singing voice to do the hooks, it would have undoubtedly increased my final score.