Does Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet capture the zeitgeist of the moment? For Gambino, aka Donald Glover, this album appears to be an attempt at image consolidation (or simplification), as the notorious polymath comedian/actor/scriptwriter/rapper has announced he will soon be ending his role as Troy in the critically acclaimed TV show Community. But the title’s reference to the saying, ‘Because of the internet, mistakes are forever,’ indicates he is at the same time certain life will only get more complicated. This flow of events makes for some great lines and juxtapositions that fit right into one’s quotidian life, however. Gambino states it right in his first vocal track, “I Crawl”: “Gut niggas, so Kurt Vonne” — referencing the cut-up time-travel techniques of author Kurt Vonnegut in works like Slaughterhouse Five.
Living in the Eastbay (eastern San Francisco Bay Area) and having grown up in Oakland, I immediately gravitated to “Telegraph Ave. – (“Oakland” by Lloyd).” While disappointed there weren’t references to the Fox Theater, Café Van Kleef, Temescal or First Fridays (although “riot” does get a mention), I could get an immediate visceral kick from “with my hands on two and ten” and “driving up the 5” as I just had to brave that Interstate run from SoCal in post-Thanksgiving traffic.
As now as I bike to get my daughter conditioner from the Albany Target : “I got a penthouse on both coasts, pH balance” in the braggadocio track “Sweatpants”…
And as I sit in the Cerrito Theater watching the ‘breakfast at Beorn’s’ scene in Hobbit II: The Desolation of Smaug: “Anybody can walk into any Denny’s and wait until I’m walking in it with a gun that they 3d printed and finish it” from “Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information).”
“Brown leather bag, the vacation Messina” on “The Party”: some have said this is a reference to Shakespeare’s Sicilian location of Much Ado About Nothing (1598), and/or Josh Whedon’s film version in 2012 set in Santa Monica), but I immediately flashed on the classic yacht-rock album cover (shot off Maui) for Loggins & Messina’s Full Sail (1973) that I found a couple of weeks ago, spray-tagged in a box in front of Berkeley’s Rasputin Records (also on Telegraph).
Other Gambino lines on Because… bring up humorous memories from past La-La Land layovers. On the philosophical “No Exit,” Gambino postulates “Pass a Fatburger through Atwater Village,” a reference not only to the franchise for the Los Angeles fast food chain that resides in that district, but to the district’s gut-like shape, with it’s main strip of Glendale Boulevard being the colon. Jean-Paul Sartre would have flourished his pipe as well.
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