I’ve been playing Childish Gambino almost non-stop since first hearing him a few days ago, and now I’m going to tell you why you should be doing the same.

First, as a bit of a background, Childish Gambino is the alias of Donald Glover, a modern day renaissance man hailing from L.A. (previously from NYC).  He is a comedian, a writer on 30 Rock, an actor on the NBC show Community, and is now a burgeoningly successful rapper.  But let me stop right there – he isn’t a rapper in the traditional sense of the word – in fact, it’s nothing like I’ve ever heard.  His self-released mixtapes combine a passion for indie music with his comedic writing skills by taking highly-regarded indie artists (e.g. Grizzly Bear, Yeasayer, Sleigh Bells, Animal Collective, Neon Indian), and recording witty, colourful, unique, irreverent, hilarious, and at times downright offensive (in a good way) lyrics over top.

In numerous songs, Childish Gambino reminds us that he is “just a rapper”, and this is true – throughout the mixtapes, he never really samples or remixes the original songs, but rather directly raps over them.  I’m not really sure whether this is some purposefully constructed commentary on the prevalence of sampling in hip-hop or merely a simple way to get backing tracks (likely the latter), but the end result allows the listener to focus solely on his biting and witty “freestyle battle”-esque lyrics.

Now that we’ve moved on to lyrics, this is where Childish Gambino really stands out – his style is often hilariously filthy and he throws in enough pop culture references and wordplay throughout to allow listeners to pick up on something new each time through.  A mild taste of some favourites so far:

“High School bullies like, ‘what the fuck happened’,
Nigga off the hook like I fuckin’ shot the captain.”

“I can’t do one thing, I’m just too good,
I can’t do one thing, I am Tiger Woods.”

“That female dog is blind, well bitch look at me now!”

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that this is a must listen – for now, below are two songs off of the mixtapes, “Bitch, Look At Me Now” (over Grizzly Bear’s ‘Two Weeks’) and “New Prince” (over Sleigh Bells’ ‘Crown on the Ground’).  You can also stream some other mixtape tracks here, or signup for Childish Gambino’s newsletter to keep informed about new releases here, like his album “Culdesac”, slated for release soon.

[mp3] Childish Gambino – Look at Me Now (Two Years)
[mp3] Childish Gambino – New Prince (Crown on the Ground)