Triskaidekaphobia (tris-kahy-dek-uh-foh-bee-uh) n. fear or a phobia of the number 13.
Thatâ€™s right. The number 13 is so fraught with superstition that there are enough people scared of itâ€¦they named it. The only thing scary about the 13 tracks on Childish Gambinoâ€™s first studio release â€˜Campâ€™ is the feeling that youâ€™ll never love another rap album as much as you love this one (You probably will but you get the idea: itâ€™s real good). From start to finish,â€¦the lyrics to the beats, youâ€™ll be hard-pressed to find something you donâ€™t like and even harder-pressed to pick your favorite part.
Rap music doesnâ€™t normally make me feel unintelligent. Broke? Lame? Boring? Sure. But never dumb. â€˜Campâ€™ is a whole other story â€“ making me feel a whole lot of the former and the exact opposite of the latter. If Gambino has a calling card it has to be his lyrics and â€˜Campâ€™ definitely doesnâ€™t disappoint. Half of my commute this past week has been spent rapping along and (more frequently) googling along to the lyrics. The word plays and pop-culture references run the gamut â€“ from â€˜Rugratsâ€™ to â€˜Full Houseâ€™â€¦Michael Bolton to FranÃ§ois Truffaut. Being able to pick up on half of them has been my crowning accomplishment of the week. A broad spectrum of themes is also touched on â€“ ranging from the harder, machismo (swag, dopeness, his junk) to the heart-felt, more somber subject matter (high-school, racism, bullying). It definitely takes on a more personal note at times and at the end of the album, you feel like you might have just gotten to know CG a bit more.
If you like the upbeat, party tracks, â€˜You See Meâ€™, â€˜Bonfireâ€™, â€˜Fire Flyâ€™ (this one reminds me of Biggie), â€˜Heartbeatâ€™ and â€˜Sunriseâ€™ are the ones you want to peep first. Want a softer flow? Check â€˜Kids (Keep Up)â€™, â€˜L.E.S.â€™ and â€˜All the Shineâ€™. Tracks: â€˜Outsideâ€™, â€˜Backpackersâ€™ and â€˜Hold You Downâ€™ flex a harder muscle and some more serious themes. I think what Iâ€™m trying to get at here is thereâ€™s some variety in this album. Itâ€™s a novel with no exposition and about five climaxes throughout its course. After this lyrical/sonic rollercoaster…â€˜That Powerâ€™ handles the resolution. The initial rap sums up (and solidifies) Gambinoâ€™s position in the rap game (On stage with my family in front of me/I am what I am/ Everything I wanna be. All these haters/See you later/). The track ends with a short story about 13-year-old Donald at camp. I wonâ€™t spoil it but it helps to understand the man behind the music just a little bit and itâ€™s dangerously close to being my favorite part of the whole album.
Gambino has already released six mixtapes completely gratis. â€˜Campâ€™ marks the first time heâ€™ll be releasing his signature tunes with a price tag. There are some that will mark this as â€˜selling outâ€™ but I think itâ€™s different. Going legit feels like a decision FOR the fans â€“ not in spite of them. He made the entire album on his own dime in a tiny studio. Only when faced with publishing realities did the idea of a record deal start to make sense. It was the only way he could get the piece to the masses in the formats the music requires/deserves. Gambino on vinyl? Cmon now. Iâ€™ve already had to turn down (and scold) at least five friends whoâ€™ve asked me to rip this album for them. I know downloading music is all the rage but if you plan on spending money on any album this yearâ€¦make it this one. And do it multiple times. Hell, I got it for free and Iâ€™m still gonna buy it.
2. Fire Fly
4. All The Shine
5. Letter Home
9. Hold You Down
10. Kids (Keep Up)
11. You See Me
13. That Power