Childish Gambino — like Drake before him — was birthed by the Kanye West school of thought, one that subscribed to a more unorthodox interpretation of rap music. Gambino is essentially a pop culture rapper, one that thrives on a unique understanding of his surroundings and a comedic perspective of the industry that made him so wealthy in the first place. There isn't anything traditionally hip-hop about him, but the music he makes still manages to resonate with many fans of the genre…and it should. Those suggesting that hip-hop can only be one thing are closed-minded rap conservatives, and Childish Gambino serves as a sort of flag bearer for MCs that don't fit the typical rap mold, but choose to rap anyway. That coupled with his continual growth makes him one of the easiest guys to root for, and those of us who championed him from the beginning are slowly reaping the benefits of our longstanding emotional investment. Plus, he helped bring us Chance the Rapper. That's got to be worth something, too.
Gambino has been steadily growing as a lyricist over the duration of his still fledgeling rap career, and it seems to be culminating in what feels like his inevitable "here I am" moment. After dropping off the stellar "Centipede" a few months ago, Donald Glover finally brings us the big news we've been waiting for: his next album will be called Because the Internet, and it will be out very soon. As if that wasn't good enough, the comedian-turned-rapper let loose a new track entitled "Yaphet Kotto" (the song is marked as a freestyle on his soundcloud page but what does that even mean this days?) as well. "Yaphet Kotto" finds Gambino delivering raps with more fluidity and clarity than ever over . He never leaves the the wit out though, throwing out lines like, "Young, Black, and Gifted, but he still in America / Heard the flow is getting better, is he sleeping with Erykah?" but also adding social commentary to his repertoire. If this is what we're to expect from him from now on, this may be the year we see Donald Glover become a real player in rap.
Stream "Yaphet Kotto (Freestyle)" below, and keep an eye out for word on Donald's next album, Because the Internet, tentatively due out winter break.
"Yaphet Kotto (Freestyle)"
- Glassnote Records
- October 8, 2013