Six years later, Because the Internet is still as relevant as the day it debuted.
Donald Glover has risen to fame in recent years as a multi-talented actor, writer, comedian, rapper and producer, amongst other things. The sheer scope of his talent is mind-boggling, with his most well known contributions to culture including being a central cast member on Community, writing for TV shows 30 Rock and Atlanta and most recently playing Lando Calrissian in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. In the world of music Glover is better known as ‘Childish Gambino‘, a magical musical alter-ego that has been producing music for over a decade.One of Glover’s most prominent releases in recent years was 2013’s Because the Internet, Glover’s second album release that saw him relinquish his work on NBCs Commuity to commit to the album’s production.
Whilst for many years being a YouTube rapper, Glover stepped it up with the release of Camp in 2011, but 2013’s Because the Internet saw the rapper truly start to experiment with his style. Single ‘Sweatpants’ is a personal favourite showcasing Glover’s playful side as he raps over a crunchy bass hook that chooses to showcase his status without feeding his ego. Lead single ‘3005’ is another highlight, which remains catchy and appealing all these years later as a well produced pop-rap number.
Glover truly shows his more intriguing side the more the album progresses as his talents for music, writing and performance begin to blend together to produce something very special. ‘Flight of the Navigator’ is a dream-like piece that evolves into a soulful sung performance over acoustic guitar that transcends much of what came before. With lyrics such as “when you lie in darkness it’s hard to see” and “we’re left alone / no one left to call upon”, it is certainly Gambino’s most contemplative work on the album. It is in this latter half that Because the Internet seems to become more dark and even reflective in its tone. Songs start to discuss the nature of fame and how it can change people, social media and the influence it has over the psyche, amongst other themes.
Particularly social media seems to be affecting Glover, with reports of strict working schedules, not allowing himself to use Twitter or Instagram throughout the project, and Glover himself taking a hiatus from social media during the album’s production. This, twinned with the bizarre 72-page screenplay released alongside the album, tell a tale of the woes of the internet and how it can negatively contribute to our thoughts and actions. Interestingly, to this day, Donald Glover has very little social media presence, mostly using it only to promote his music and performances rather than divulge on his personal life.
In many ways, Because the Internet, whilst being a little inconsistent, manages to be a playful and fun hip-hop album that still has an important message. Breakout singles like ‘3005’ and ‘Sweatpants’ provide enjoyable enough music, but the latter slightly stranger tracks begin to unravel an intriguing narrative, within which lies a much deeper message should the listener dare to look.
Because the Internet is available now via Glassnote records