Published Dec 09, 2013Fluff. Childish Gambino's sophomore album, Because the Internet, is filled with fluff. The album doesn't need several interludes, nor the 14 tracks separated into different sub-sections or a script, but it does and it works. Prior to the release, Gambino stated that he wanted to build a world around this album — including a screenplay intended to be read with the LP— and that's the dilemma: do you listen to the album in the way the artist intended or enjoy the record as a singular experience? Whatever your decision, it doesn't take away from what is largely a great album.
On its own merits, Internet is a well-produced effort that evokes a Channel Orange-motif with existential, disjointed stories that feel eerily interlinked. Meanwhile, Gambino's witty lyricism remains intact with lines like: "Too true like it's 2 Chainz/ Blue Blood like he both gangs." However, when read with the lengthy 72-page script and accompanying visuals, the album feels much more cohesive, as each song is given purpose and feels methodical in how it's arranged. Songs like "IV. Sweatpants," which initially sounds like an ode to material riches and narcissism, takes on a completely different tone and purpose with the screenplay, while other tracks like "III. Urn," which seemed pointless in the context of the album on its own, are given paramount significance.
Truth be told, the album doesn't know if it wants to be a competent standalone piece or part of a larger multimedia device, but like anything else on the internet, it's up to the consumer to figure that out, and maybe that's the point. Either way, Because the Internet is a vast improvement over his debut effort, showcasing an artist who has confidently found a way to coalesce his love for music and films into one hybrid effort. (Glassnote)