Childish Gambino
Camp


3.5
great

Review

by Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (68 Reviews)
November 15th, 2011 | 221 replies | 28,423 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Donald Glover takes his time at "Camp" to do some serious evaluation, and he shares it all with his fans

As someone who never had to attend summer camp, I can only relate to my friends’ experiences, but can say with a decent amount of authority that camp is to be enjoyed, with many friends around to share experiences with; but occasionally devastatingly lonely to the point where the one thing you want most in the world is to go home and talk to your parents. If my friends are to be believed, then Camp is not only the most fitting name for Childish Gambino’s debut LP, it is the only suitable name for it. Camp has everything that summer camps purportedly have: times of raucous fun, times of bitter loneliness, and times of evaluation for self-betterment. In this same way, the album has its fair share of ups and downs as we see Gambino- known to most as Donald Glover, aka Troy Barnes from Community- progress as a rapper.

“I am just a rapper,” is one of Glover’s favorite refrains, and serves two functions to make his rapping guise more relatable. On one hand, it emphasizes the irony and wit that Glover frequently incorporates into his lines. Of course he’s more than just a rapper- he’s an award winning writer for 30 Rock, and holds a starring role on Community for heaven’s sake. On the other hand, he just wants to convince us that he is just a rapper, that he was put on Earth to be Childish Gambino and do nothing else. Camp is not only a chance for Gambino to prove to the world that he is ‘just’ a rapper, but it is also a cathartic experience for him, both as a person and an artist.

This catharsis comes in many forms. Gambino spends the first half of Camp regaling us with stories of his newfound fame and success through rapping while also exposing his playful side with tracks like “Bonfire,” which is one of the few songs where Gambino displays his trademark wit and one-liners. It’s like the first week of summer camp where each camper is looking for an identity. Gambino’s is the class clown that remains faithful enough to his family that he will never take a joke so far that it will disappoint them. This is the cleansing of the spirit of Childish Gambino. He admits to his ‘stupid *** being real ***,’ and hints that, beneath his jovial exterior, there are demons lurking inside.

And the demons lurking are best on display on the second half of Camp. This half focuses not on Childish Gambino, but on Donald Glover; a man who left the projects and feels like he can never come back; a man that went from “omega to alpha male because of a dollar bill;” and a man that feels entirely uncomfortable underneath the glare of the spotlight. Glover bares all for us to see in a way that we haven’t seen since Kanye West’s early confessionals. It’s grim, almost unappealingly so, to dress himself down so readily.

It’s unfortunate that a record as frank and fresh as Camp wasn’t executed in a more professional manner. At the end of the day, Gambino still doesn’t have the chops to do himself justice- mostly because he truly is an amazingly interesting person. However, his flow is still inconsistent, and the second half of Camp is too personal for its own good. Gambino’s best trait is his childishness, his willingness to have the audacity to say “made the beat then murdered it/Casey Anthony,” without blinking an eye. There just isn’t enough of that on Camp to keep the entire record afloat.

The other side of the coin, though, is that in these 53 minutes, we see a man grow. Donald Glover carried a lot of baggage- ranging from bullying to confidence issues- that he has no issue confronting, even if it means all of his fans can hear about his problems too. On Camp we hear one of the most sincere rap albums of the year- if not longer- and see the evolution of a fledgling career. By the end of Camp, Glover is no longer “just a rapper,” he is a full grown man, and a legitimized MC.



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user ratings (440)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Alvados222 (3)
'Camp' is the sound of an artist knowing what they to do, but not how they want to come across....

Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (1.5)
*crickets*...

Point1 (3)
Filled with contradictions and unfulfilled promises, Childish Gambino's debut delivers on a far shal...

danielito19 (2)
Glover should have stuck with acting....


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 15th 2011



14513 Comments


nice paragraphs!

edit: well I feel like an ass now, don't I?

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 15th 2011



8958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

haha, I tried changing it before someone noticed. Apparently I'm a failure at that too.
edit: Don't feel bad hombre. I'm the one that kind of compared the album to a concentration camp

Digging: Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2011



30298 Comments


Yeah, woah summary

Digging: L'Orange - The Orchid Days

Urinetrouble
November 15th 2011



5695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

good review right rating

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 15th 2011



8958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can dig it


gabethepiratesquid
November 15th 2011



4521 Comments


At least .5 too high but a'ight review. Weird summary.

gabethepiratesquid
November 15th 2011



4521 Comments


Also, Heartbeat makes me want to puke every time I hear it, but Firefly is pretty dope so it's okay.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 15th 2011



8958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm gonna change it, it's too out-there for its own good

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 15th 2011



8958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree with Firefly being the best too. It's probably my second favorite of all his songs.

Dummit
November 16th 2011



333 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album is like Jekyll n Hyde.

its really heartfelt and serious half the time and then its just outright bonkers and heartless the rest.

i dig it, but it does that on everyother song it seems, and it really hurts how i feel about it in terms of flow in general.

bloc
November 16th 2011



34499 Comments


I heard a song from this or something and thought it was terrible

Digging: He Is Legend - I Am Hollywood

AtavanHalen
November 16th 2011



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fucken kiss my ass human centipede

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 16th 2011



8958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^favorite line right there

AtavanHalen
November 16th 2011



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dude is seriously my fucking hero

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 16th 2011



8958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can see why, he's like the renaissance man of modern entertainment

AtavanHalen
November 16th 2011



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

and he's fucking sexy too

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 16th 2011



8958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Indeed he is

danielito19
November 17th 2011



3020 Comments


listened to a few tracks, and sometimes it seems like he's telling me I'm not allowed to dislike him, and lists all the reasons why (All The Shine)

dunno still not really a fan

Digging: Ground Zero - Revolutionary Pekinese Opera, Ver. 1.28

AtavanHalen
November 17th 2011



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All the Shine is sooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooood

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2011



5923 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Album sucks, ending is really good though.



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