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CD review: Childish Gambino’s ‘Because the Internet’

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Annie Zaleski

Three stars

Childish Gambino Because the Internet

Actor Donald Glover’s decision to take a breather from NBC’s Community to concentrate on his music might not have been the right one. On Because the Internet, Glover’s second album under the name Childish Gambino, the rapper struggles to focus his occasionally brilliant music ideas.

The record borrows from Drake’s brawny romanticism, Miguel’s slippery R&B and Kendrick Lamar’s brute realism, across hip-pop with sinister synths (the highlight “Telegraph Ave. (‘Oakland’ By Lloyd)”), syrupy soul (“Pink Toes”) and galloping gothtronica (“Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night)”). Gambino’s motor-mouthed delivery suits the record’s themes—figuring out identity and keeping relationships going while navigating the isolating Internet age and its hashtag-filled quirks—but further compounds Because the Internet’s disjointed vibe.

In the end, he’s more compelling when he abandons shtick for honesty: On “Life: The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer),” Gambino boldly admits, “I don’t know who I am anymore.” It’s a welcome moment of clarity on an otherwise distracted record.

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