Donald Glover’s rap project Childish Gambino is now two LPs old: first came the watery pop-rap debut, “Camp,” and then the assertive existential follow-up, “Because of the Internet.” While it’s so far not as satisfying as his comedy career has been, with “Because of the Internet,” Childish Gambino has evolved enough to be thought of as a serious endeavor in its own right.
Childish Gambino has also released a slew of mixtapes and singles between his two official releases. Most of the material—like his discography taken as a whole—is hit or miss, but there are some definite winners tucked away.
In anticipation of his show at the Fillmore tonight, we’ve highlighted the five best Childish Gambino songs from his non-LP releases. Still no luck on that secret track, though.
Aided by an acoustic beat variant of “All of the Lights,” borrowed from his stylistic patriarch Kanye West (who he politely name checks in the track), “Break” has its share of the clever lines Gambino is equally hailed and dismissed for. A highlight, thanks to what must be one of only a couple Smurf-referencing lines in hip-hop: “Can I live up to all this hype they have for me? It’s hard to tell / But these girls I’m kissin’ chase the blues away like Gargamel.”
4. “Shoulda Known”
“Shoulda Known” is one of Gambino’s many “real talk” tracks. Over a twinkling synth and a simple beat, Gambino phases from a sincere R&B chorus to rapped verse, talking about the unsexy reality of his version of fame. Later, he switches out the sweetly sung chorus of “shoulda known” for slant rhyme “shitted on,” a comedy-writer’s rapper diss if there ever was one.