Childish Gambino’s Camp album is overshadowed by Donald Glover’s comedic acting. People will judge it based on his most known performance, a cast member in the sitcom Community. However, the album is something entirely else; while some things are said in jest, the album is an introspective look into Glover’s personal life, race politics and other existential ponderings of people in their early 20s.
Camp‘s sound is minimalist: the beats are bare bones so people can focus on Glover’s lyrics, which are sometimes rapped, sometimes sung, but all done very proficiently. This approach is a good thing – the lyrics are the best part of the album. Glover discusses what it is to be a black person that grew up “white” and how this has ostracized him from “black” community. This is probably the most interesting thing any rapper has covered in years. It’s a cultural shift that merges both cultures, marking an interesting turning point in race relations in the US. Glover, in a way, bridges this gap between worlds.
Other times he talks about his place in this world; struggles growing up as an outcast – being both a nerd and being an atypical black person; what fame has brought; and his hedonistic ways with women. It is reminiscent of Tyler the Creator – there is a lot of honesty and personal reflection. Also like Tyler, it is how Glover discusses these things, with some disregard for women, that will polarize listeners.
Some people will be offended and others may consider it a looking-glass into how some men of this generation think. It’s both brilliant and offensive.
Asynchronous Party Goer Opinions
Dave: “I really disliked this album.”
Kristy: “I enjoyed this album. His sound gets too R&B singy for me at some points (All the Shine) which is my biggest complaint, but I have a really low tolerance for that. I wanted to listen to it all the way
through because of the variety among his tracks. I liked the ground bass on Backpackers which reminded me of Jay Z (ZZ Top!) 99 problems. Lyrically, he’s just likable and he’s funny. The delivery of the lyrics from aggressive/angry to reflective were cracking me up at the end of [the song] ‘Heartbeat.'”
Bridget: “I like it, it was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be a little more PG but its pretty R rated. I also think he ripped off Kanye a little as it reminds me of “Monster” a lot. I kept thinking he’s a cross between Kanye and Nicki Minaj. But the more I listen the more I really like it.”
Verdict: You’ll either love it or hate it. My guess is that it comes down to how serious you take Glover and the point of your life you are in. Some people will feel his lyrics and attitude are very juvenile. Others will think it’s important to understand how people of this generation think and act. The album doesn’t have any “club bangers” – so it’s not likely that you’ll hear it many places due to its sound and sometimes explicit content.
Videos from the album: