Having slipped us a taste of his latest work via the serenely hallucinogenic “Sober” just over a week ago, Gambino now officially reveals the STN MTN mixtape in its entirety…[and freely]. The other “half”, entitled Kauai, will be an iTunes-exclusive release, with an ETA not yet announced.
11 tracks deep, STN MTN depicts an occasionally R&B-entangled Gambino (“U Don’t Have to Call”) with a not-so-secret preference for the 90s hip-hop eclectic…casually dipping into ’96 Outkast samples and record scratch-y minimalism (“Dream Southern/Hospitality”). His art also speaks in clubby, danceable form (“Money Baby”).
…And then there are moments where all of Gambino’s creative facets glimmer under one source of light…like “Candler Road”, a track that executes the Drake-style, dual-phased outro in perfect form. And he can’t keep from singing, either…a new and fascinating practice of the singer/actor/rapper/comedian. Intro-ing with an Usher homage, an a cappella recitation of the original song’s chorus, “U Don’t Have to Call” involves a soft, spoken-word reflection laid on synthesized falsettos and soft drums. ‘Bino’s references are slightly cryptic, but manage to weave in Usher’s words with new and personal meaning:
“Quiet, confident, I talked to her…
She came with you, but she left with me
Now she’s in the passenger seat
‘So, where we going?’
Just the way
Which leaves you standing there thinking…
‘You don’t have to call, baby’…”
While STN MTN doesn’t hold consistent, song-after-song potency, it certainly has its peaks of hip-hoppish eloquence. With that said, most of the noisy, disconcerting fillers (i.e. “No Small Talk”, “All Y’all”) can be forgiven and deleted upon download.
Wordplay is the beating heart of Childish Gambino creation, and “Go DJ”–as well as the cynical “Money Baby”–showcase the best rhymes & phrases…(“This game is how we maneuver/There’s plenty of fish in the sea and I treat them groupies like grouper; My life inside a computer–back up my soul to the ‘Cloud…”).
Not that a metaphorical reference made to Apple’s iCloud is revolutionary…but who thinks of this stuff?
STN MTN is an artist’s break for mish-mash; particularly, Childish Gambino’s venture into classic record-spinning disorganization and uneven themes. Never one to settle into a single genre, the 31-year-old artist again demonstrates his propensity for randomness…but a strangely cohesive one at that. A whirlwind tribute to Atlanta’s music scene and hubbub, the mixtape functions meaningfully in concept-form.