Male bravado. What is it about men that makes them so intent on broadcasting their talents and conquests? Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is particularly boastful, commanding the indie MC to spend much of his rap career extolling his virtues. Meanwhile his bank account, it transpires, is starved of attention. It’s a shame, because Gambino’s metaphors and reference points prove that he’s got a lot more to talk about than the contents of his trousers.
Gambino may already be familiar to gogglebox aficionados through his sterling comedic acting work as Troy in the gently surreal US sitcom Community or, to hardcore nerds, his writing credits for 30 Rock. Yet despite his stated aim to ‘tell a story’ about his personal progress with this album, so much of his subject matter is so trite and over-farmed that it makes this seem like a missed opportunity. That’s not to say Gambino is a bad, or even middling, rapper. Although his screamy, sometimes downright histrionic flow can seem overbearingly emo, the passion in his delivery and his undeniable mic-wrangling skills prove that he takes his night job very seriously indeed. What makes this album a strange beast is that for someone who clearly knows what he’s talking about, Gambino spends a lot of time talking about not much.