Donald Glover is probably best known for his role within the TV series Community where he plays a young college student. However, some may not know he also has a rapping career under the stage name Childish Gambino. He has released 2 studio albums since 2011 and recently released his second EP/seventh mix tape STN MTN / Kauai.
The mix tape differs from his previous release “Because the Internet” in the sense that his previous release had a deeper, more thought out meaning and probably had much more time invested in it. Especially with that 70 page script. This album mainly focuses on partying, money and women. Not really the most original theme but Gambino does distribute it well and make it his own. It moves away from the romantic, love style of V3005 and moves more onto the concept of one-night stands and strippers; girls he doesn’t have many emotions for.
STN MTN/Kauai split into two halves. The first half is STN MTN, which pays a tribute to Stone Mountain where he grew up near, in Atlanta. We see this right from the start in the intro track, the first of two triple part tracks, Dream/Southern Hospitality/Partna Dem in which Gambino has a dream he ran Atlanta and lists what he would do if he did. This includes giving strippers Mothers Day off. What a nice guy, right. He also includes beats from Southern Hospitality by the Atlanta rapper Ludacris, and from Partna Dem by Atlanta group Rich Kidz. This again, sticks to the tribute to Atlanta. DJ Drama breaks up the song a bit with slightly harsher vocals however; I do think the song could work just as well without his vocals. Lyrically I think the intro is very strong and Gambino even includes a bit of humour within the lyrics “Semen on her stomach, that’s a second coming, Jesus”
The second triple part song Move That Dope/Nextel Chirp/Let Your Hair Swing isn’t as strong as the first, which I think, is down to the last third, which features Young Scooter with his rather repetitive lyrics. If this part was changed or taken out, it may improve this track and I would like to hear more from Gambino and less from Young Scooter. However, it does show some diversity and has more of a trap style compared to some of his tracks.
Further into STN MTN, we hear Small Talk, which may be seen as slightly repetitive, just as Let Your Hair Swing does. It includes even fewer vocals from Gambino and again, I would prefer to hear more from him. It is taken over by Kari Faux and is one of the weaker songs on the mix tape. It is easy to listen to however, falls short on interesting lyrics. Another song that I think lets the mix tape down is AssShots remix. It doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the style throughout the mix tape and although it shows off his diversity, it is quite forgettable with the rest of the mix tape in mind.
Moving on to the Kauai side of the mix tape, we get more chilled ocean sounds and I am drawn more towards this sound of the mix tape which features sweet, soft melodies and dream-like vocals. The second song “Pop Thieves” featuring Jaden Smith, features chilled ocean sounds within the background which ties in well with the name of the EP, which is named after the oldest Hawaiian Island. It takes us back to the dream state he raps about within the intro track to STN MTN and has soft, chilled vocals throughout.
I feel as though the STN MTN side of the mix tape is quite average compared to the Kauai side however, this is personal opinion and if you’re more into trap music than Gambino’s R&B sound, it’s likely you’ll prefer STN MTN much more. I think Kauai makes this mix tape worth a listen and it’s also worth listening to the whole mix tape just to see how much Donald Glover is capable of. We hear such a diverse range of vocals and styles within this mix tape and it gives us an insight into what we could expect from Gambino in the future.
Overall, I do rate the mix tape quite highly however, there are just a few songs which let this mix tape down. Taking into account the fact that this is a tribute towards Atlanta and Stone Mountain, it may seem like a generic Atlanta album to some people but Childish Gambino really makes this his own with the softer tracks. There isn’t much of a storyline to this mix tape, but it seems to be more of a fun project showcasing just what Gambino can do rather than being a serious album, which makes the lack of meaning more forgivable. It is a great mix tape for easy listening and has a bit of something for every fan of Childish Gambino.