By: Connor Lenahan
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Childish Gambino. In 2014 alone I have seen him in concert thrice. I got to meet him in March and it was a moment taken off of my bucket list without question. So my excitement when just a few days ago he dropped a two-part mixtape STN MTN/Kauai was understandably high. I knew Kendrick Season was approaching. I had no idea that Gambino Season was already here.
Well, I spent all day listening to the tape. I couldn’t be happier with it. I’m biased – which is putting it lightly – but I got a wish granted by STN MTN. For a while now I have listened to Gambino. In this time period he has released two major albums: Camp and Because The Internet. I stand in the majority that would suggest that the latter is the better album. However I had a wish coming off of BTI in 2013. I wanted Gambino to release a collection of songs that had him destroying beats. While a conceptual album like BTI was and is terrific I wanted to see Gambino just outright conquer a release on the mic. This has been in large part accomplished with STN MTN. Songs like the opening “Dream/Southern Hospitality/Partna Dem,” “Move That Dope/Nextel Chirp/Let Your Hair Blow,” and (especially) “Candler Road” are showcases that Donald Glover is not screwing around. This isn’t just a side project. He’s in this to make amazing music. He’s doing it.
STN MTN is focused on Gambino’s hometown of Atlanta and the acts that have made the city famous. Tributes to OutKast, Usher, Ludacris, Future, and many more appear through beats and samples. The hybrid of “Atlanta Rap” and Gambino’s ubiquitous talents as an artist create an interesting match. This is the most Gambino has ever sounded like Drake – and that’s an amazing thing. It’s far from copying from Aubrey for the sake of publicity. The combo of straight rap and straight singing songs is one that Drake tends to do better than anyone. Gambino is not far behind. STN MTN is focused on establishing Gambino as a premier rapper in the truest sense. He touches R&B more in Kauai and again is incredible.
What I’m happiest about outside of the fact that there is new Gambino music is how high quality it is. Gambino is and has been a rapper on the rise for years now. He is still trying to figure all this out. He is doing it alone. Drake was raised under the wing of Lil Wayne, who was raised by Birdman, and so on. Gambino won an Emmy for writing on 30 Rock and decided to make music out of thin air. With that in mind it’s really tough to deny that he has come a long way quickly. He has made a name for himself this quickly. The future projects to be an incredibly bright one as well. If this is what Gambino can do for a mixtape imagine what he’s got in store for album number three.
Further, one thing I realized while listening today is that Gambino has once again made a move to own my winter. Every year there is seemingly some album that conquers a full season or more of my life. Summer 2012 was dominated by Channel Orange by Frank Ocean. Spring/Summer 2013 belonged to Yeezus. The majority of 2014 has belonged to OutKast. But like the Winter of 2013, which was defined by my growing obsession with Because The Internet, the Fall/Winter of 2014 looks to once again belong to Gambino. I have nothing wrong with this. It’s going to be a great conclusion to 2014.