You Don’t Like Childish Gambino’s ‘Because the Internet’ Because of the Internet
When the leak of Childish Gambino’s sophomore record Because the Internet arrived in my inbox last week, I was a little hesitant to open it. Not because I thought I had a porn virus or the Syrian Electronic Army was attacking me, but because I’d followed Glover’s zig-zagging narrative closely over the past six months. First, he announced that he’d be cutting down his time in Community. Then he went pretty quiet on social media, despite dropping his first track in sometime, “Centipede.” Then he released Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, that strangely bizarre 30-minute experimental silent film completely different from any of the silly comedy he was known for (“Troy and Abed in the morning,” anyone?) Then that whole “Instagram photo” thinghappened, in which he posted a bunch of handwritten letters in the Renaissance Hotel explaining his own frustrations with media and the internet. Then he dropped some more new music—music that made the few people on the rap internet who actually listened to it say, oh, wow, this is pretty good—and announcedBecause the Internet’s release, which is today. Then he spoke to Noisey about attempting suicide and taking more drugs in order to be a better rapper. And now, anytime he’s in public, he looks stoned out of his mind, a bit like he’s floating, uncertain of his next move but still carrying a bit of innate, Hollywood-charm. As a critic and a rap fan, it was fascinating to watch his development as an artist. And so when the record did indeed arrive, I was wary of listening because, holy shit, what if I actually like this Childish Gambino record?
The fact that I had this internal discussion—whether or not it was okay for me to like this music—is inherently funny, but what’s more is that it’s indicative of exactly what the Because the Internet is about, how self-aware Glover is, what he is trying to accomplish with Gambino, and what the culture thinks of him.
Oh, and it’s also important to consider that this is a record made by Childish Gambino, who is arguably one of the most automatically hated rappers currently in the game.
So will “Blurred Lines” stand the test of time? Will it go on sucking for years like “Wild World?” Is this feeling an eternal flame? Or will it vanish, like “Save the Best for Last?” Well, in the words of a band who sucked wildly in 1982 and were immediately forgotten, only time will tell. But one thing is for sure. Nothing in 2013 sucked like “Blurred Lines.” And this was the year we got a Leonardo DiCaprio remake of The Great Gatsby. Everything next year will just have to suck a little harder.
2013: A Year in Which Some Music Happened
If you don’t write an end of the year trendpiece, you are a total jerk. Because a year’s art starts on day one of the new year and if we don’t quantify it somehow by December, who are we as a people and what is our worth? Without lists and handy dandy encapsulation, on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0, we are, like, negative infinity.
With that in mind I have helpfully compiled some of the most important trends of 2013 for you. Because time is not a stream. It is a Lego. I put numbers in front of them so that it was a proper list. I spelled the numbers out so that it qualifies as a “thinkpiece.”
First off: Kanye West. So far, so good. This summation racket is very pretty easy.
Secondly: Total bullshit that Perfect Pussy reached number one on the Billboard charts because the Illuminati (or as it’s most commonly referred to in Boston, “chix”) fooled all you fools into liking something you didn’t actually like. This is the Thomas Frank theory of music criticism. If only the heartland weren’t so credulous, we wouldn’t have to sit through multiple Perfect Pussy rock blocks on the radio (whatever that is).
Tertiary: Black Metal and shoegaze combined forces help put Rosemary’s Baby (and me) to sleep. I can only suppose that Satan is looking at the long game.
Fourth: Punk happened again, for the 46 year running. Punk is Susan Lucci in 1999, but forever.
If R. Kelly Makes Us So Uncomfortable, Why Do We Keep Listening?
One of the internet’s most distinct qualities is that it’s got the memory of a goddamn minnow. The recent leak of R. Kelly’s Black Panties has brought with it the same questions that we’ve been asking of Kelly for years: Is it OK to like his music despite the fact that he more than probably has had sex with multiple minors?
Everyone in This Wheelchair Sports Camp Is Stoned and Making Beats
Kalyn Heffernan is 42 inches tall, has been diagnosed with a brittle bone disease, is confined to a wheelchair, smokes lots of weed, and won’t hesitate to publicly shame anyone who gets on her bad side with a brutal rap track. Kalyn is the emcee and driving force of Denver’s Wheelchair Sports Camp, a hip-hop group that mixes classic beats with jazz and avant-garde sound experiments. The group formed while Kalyn was in college, with just her rapping and a DJ supplying the beats, but has evolved into a shifting lineup that sometimes features drums, a saxophone, and even a sitar.
Her music deals with social inequalities relating to handicap people, as well as getting blazed as fuck and how much cops suck. On her song, “This Bitch…” Kalyn attacks problems with healthcare, and on “Party Song” she taunts, “rock, let the midget hit it/cops on my jock, make ‘em, cough/cus I’m sicker with it.” More recently, she’s started to make beats for rapping Haitians who were displaced by the 2010 earthquake, and called out Goodwill for paying handicap people less than minimum wage.
VICE: Hello, Kalyn. What is your writing process?
Kalyn: I’m a pretty slow writer. Sometimes I write faster, but more than not I have to sit down… well, I’m always sitting down, but I just have to go at it.
You used to sneak backstage at shows and meet people like Xzibit, Ludacris, Erykah Badu, and Busta Rhymes. How did you do it?
It was pretty easy. I would play the wheelchair card and say “oh, so and so” told me to come back here. I was a pretty good scam artist back then. I think, because of my disability and because of my advantages, that I’ve been able to milk the sysem. I could get backstage to almost any concert.
I think the fact that you are so marketable is that you’re one of the few rappers to bridge the gap from being just a rapper to being a pop culture icon. Let’s put it this way: my mother knows who you are. You even became a meme. How’d that come to be?
It’s probably because I talked to Bill O’ Reilly and asked him if he was mad. It was nothing really. He was trying to come at me and I thought it was hilarious, so I made a joke out of it. It’s a lot of things. But the simple fact is that I’m living my lifestyle and people are capitalizing on it financially or intellectually. I don’t plan any of this, I just wake up in the morning being me.