"Wait, I thought I was an actor?" (Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los…)
***1/2 (out of four)
The joke’s on anyone who assumes “Community” funnyman Donald Glover can’t rap. Under the Wu-Tang Clan Name Generator-created rap tag Childish Gambino, Glover has followed a handful of promising free albums/mixtapes and dropped one of the year’s most bracing hip-hop records with his official debut, “Camp.”
Wit and insight marry like reality show stars—wait, the opposite of that—as Glover reflects throughout the disc on the notion of blackness (“No live shows 'cause I can’t find sponsors/for the only black kid at a Sufjan concert” he declares on “Firefly”) and puts bite back into the world of boast jams. (When dude says, “Kiss my ass/"Human Centipede,," you can just hear an “Ohhhhhhh”-shouting club going nuts.)
Glover sports a nasal, Kanye-like flow over everything from aggressive, Saul Williams-esque rock (lead single “Bonfire”) and Justice-esque “Heartbeat” to a soulful croon on songs like the string-laced “Kids (Keep Up),” on which Glover comments, “Women talk [bleep] on men like all day but it’s Pete Wentz—goes both ways.”
What the album lacks in musical consistency it more than makes up for in brainpower; the guy may love to recall childhood with nods to “Full House” and “Land Before Time” toys at Pizza Hut, but he’s also got the guts to point out stuff like, “You're not not racist 'cause 'The Wire’s' in your Netflix queue.” Funny. Bold. Surprising. Kinda like “Community,” ay?