An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!
With the new FX series Atlanta premiering this week, it only seemed fitting that I celebrate the creator and star of the show, Donald Glover, and the music he produces as Childish Gambino. While most may know him from his comedic role on Community, he’s proven himself to be much more over the years through his music and is sure to turn some heads for his new dramatic role. Should you be so inclined, be sure to read Matt Grosinger’s review of Atlanta after getting the following music firmly cemented into your brain.
“Freaks and Geeks”
I wanted to start with the track that most would recognize as Childish Gambino’s main debut to the world. This and tracks like “Heartbeat,” off 2011’s Camp, are incredibly catchy and, as some are bound to point out, fairly explicit in their lyrics. The subject matter of many bars in “Freaks and Geeks” displays a certain “bravado” that, although comedic in some of the wordplay, comes across seeming like it may be an exaggeration of hip-hop’s tendency to be male-chauvinistic. While Glover’s voice as Childish Gambino continues to touch on some of the same elements to this day, it’s since matured to be… a bit more subtle.
Both this and “Freaks and Geeks” read like they’re open letter dis tracks to any and all criticism of Gambino’s life, style, or actions. Yet there’s a distinct feeling in “Sweatpants” that the sentiment had evolved to a place where it felt far more sincere. Perhaps it’s that this song was released at a time when Gambino had already established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the music world and that “Freaks and Geeks” feels as if it’s answering naysayers that just weren’t there at the time it was released. “Sweatpants” doesn’t shy away from that same bravado but does so with far more tact. Especially in the chorus–Don’t be mad cause I’m doing me better than you doing you–which shines a light on what I would consider the root cause of most interpersonal animosity in the world.
The Worst Guys (Feat. Chance The Rapper)
As a Chicago resident, I am obligated to do a few things. Never put ketchup on a hot dog, sing the praises of deep dish pizza, and–whenever possible–share any song featuring Chance the Rapper. Furthermore, being able to work in a Sister, Sister reference (“go home, Roger”) into a song is an achievement worth celebrating.
There are some people out there that may dismiss Childish Gambino as a serious artist because of Glover’s acting career. Let’s face it, there’s a long line of actors turned musicians that don’t entirely make it easy to be taken seriously. I’m looking at you, Russell Crowe, Bruce Willis, Heather Graham, Billy Bob Thornton, Eddie Murphy, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal, Jada Pinkett Smith, Don Johnson, Robert Downey Jr., and America’s
cousin who’s always asking to borrow money sweetheart Corey Feldman. Glover, on the other hand, could easily excel at either profession, and the fact he’s collaborated with quite a few incredible musicians over the years is proof positive that his music career is legitimate.
I wanted to end on a track that I am absolutely obsessed with. From the Kauai EP released in 2014, the song and video are (to me) an absolute conundrum. What sounds like a love song at times also plays out as if it’s one fit for a break-up. Lyrically, it appears to contradict itself mentioning that something has ended where there is now a need to escape into chemical dependence. And yet the verses are a plea for love.
The video plays out like a surreal dream sequence in which Childish Gambino eventually wins the affection, in some small way, of a woman sitting in a diner. The song’s lyrics would lead us to believe they’re a couple toward the end of a relationship but by the end we realize they may not even know each other. Is what’s “over” the time spent without this woman in his life? Could never being “sober” allude to wanting to feel “high” on affection for her? Am I interpreting all of this completely wrong? Inquiring minds (mine) need to know!
What are your favorite Childish Gambino tracks? Are you excited for Atlanta? Did you read Matt’s review of it yet? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Image: Childish Gambino Vevo
Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)