Because the Everything: Thoughts on Childish Gambino’s new album Because the Internet

Because the Internet ALBUM ART

CHILDISH GAMBINO – BECAUSE THE INTERNET (Releasing this Tuesday, 12/10)

“When you spitting real shit, eventually you throw up.”

I had a conversation with a friend recently regarding the profound isolation that’s becoming exponentially present in our supposedly anti-isolation society.  The conversation started with me stating my usual “concert complaints” of gratuitous smartphone usage, specifically present at Kanye West’s triumphant Yeezus date in Atlanta (and, assumedly, all dates of the tour).  The spectacle is being witnessed by roughly 20,000 people a night – in person.  Yet, the intimacy and immediacy is somewhat lost (or at least perverted), as the average attendee is viewing a large portion of the show not through his or her own eyes, but through their phone.  Fuck, someone in front of me was even holding up their iPad to capture selfies (with Kanye and his mountain serving as a mere backdrop) during a solid hour of the 3 hour show.  These types of conversations are circular, however, as I always end up both defending and criticizing this generationally unique phenomenon of intimate non-intimacy.  Without those phoners – and without the Internet at all – would we even have a public figure as riveting as Kanye West?  The conversation ended softly, more or less falling apart as I plugged my iPhone back into the wall charger and ignored it for Netflix.  The conversation in question was all text messages, but does that truly make me a hypocrite?  I’m part of the problem, which is not to say that the “problem” is even necessarily a problem.  The problem has become the solution but no one is steering the ship in the right direction.  We’re lost.

“Man made the Web.  You don’t need a name.”

Enter Donald Glover.  Specifically, enter his brilliant new album Because the Internet – a meditation on the generationally unique isolationism that keeps me – and many others – awake many nights, pondering life navigations.  The Internet, as argued on this album and by Glover in interviews surrounding its release, provides a limitless world to anyone with WiFi.  Yet, that very limitlessness has crippled our generation by painting a vision of life so broad and so infinite, that most of us end up cowering beneath it.  For the first time in human existence, people can truly be anything and anyone they want.  Nothing – and no one – is untouchable.  One’s own identity is, more feasibly than ever before, actually in the hands of the individual.  Perhaps, then, such an unprecedented gift as limitlessness possesses a strong learner’s curve.  It could be said that my generation would benefit from some conscious rewiring.

A new identity born of a conscious reinvention of what has become a subconsciously constant reassignment process by trivial outside forces (wage, sex, race).

It’s quite clear on Because the Internet that Glover has done some serious rewiring of his own.  He doesn’t appear to be any less lost than anyone else, but he does exhibit a refreshingly candid and inspiringly self-aware thesis on what it means to be truly “born of the Internet.”  As anyone who even just casually participates in pop culture already knows, Glover has risen from a YouTube icon (DerrickComedy) to a respected writer (30 Rock) to a TV star in his own right (Community) to a… rapper?

Not exactly.

In fact, not at all.

Glover would be more fairly described as, simply, an artist.  “Music journalism at large” seems to cling to this beautifully broad title as something mystically unattainable.  That line of thinking, of course, has grown increasingly obsolete among actual artists.  I mean, why can’t I write, sing, act, direct, paint, design, and produce all at once?  The given answers are usually pumped-up non-answers (“you can’t be good at everything,” etc.).  So, then, I suppose, we remove the contraction from the discourse.  Why CAN I write, sing, act, direct, paint, design, and produce all at once?

Because, well, the Internet.  That’s why.

“We are the dreams of our parents lost in the future who hide the deepest desires and wear a mask like a lucha.”

Our future is brightest.  We are the envy of our circumstantially narrow-minded forefathers.  Glover, like Kanye before him, understands this deeply.  However, the unique strength and power of Glover’s work – something I assume will carry over from this album into his upcoming FX series Atlanta – rests in the societal immediacy of his position.  At 30 years old, Glover is still sitting at our table.

He’s still one of us.

Stream the album here.

See below for tracklist, a screenplay released by Gambino & a short film serving as the prelude to the screenplay.

Screenplay: becausetheinter.net

Tracklist:
01 The Library (Intro)
02 I. The Crawl
03 II. worldstar
04 Dial Up
05 I. The worst guys (feat. Chance The Rapper)
06 II. shadows
07 III. telegraph (“Oakland” by Lloyd)
08 IV. sweatpants
09 V. 3005
10 Playing Around Before The Party Starts
11 I. The Party
12 II. no exit
13 Death By Numbers
14 I. Flight of The Navigator
15 II. zealots of stockholm (free information)
16 III. umm
17 I. pink toes (feat. Jhene Aiko)
18 II. earth: The oldest computer (The last night) [feat. Azealia Banks]
19 III. life: The biggest troll (andrew auernheimer)

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