Donald Glover is an actor. He is not a rapper. Where he got that idea from is anyone’s guess, yet he insists that he is a legitimate rapper. There is overwhelming evidence that he has no idea how to rap at all, including new evidence in a song below. It’s sort of like watching someone you quite like go through the throes of early dementia.
It’s clear he is influenced by Frank Ocean and… I dunno, bruh… LL Cool J? At his best, Childish Gambino sounds like LL on a handful of Tylenol PMs during a carbon monoxide leak. And there’s a Kanye-esque breakdown at the end featuring a monologue from a movie where a guy keeps saying the n-word over and over, or something. There probably has to be a reason for doing so—to be honest I was actively trying to block out this song while hearing it, almost like my brain was trying to protect me from hearing it. I am playing the song as I write this and can not recollect how the song goes, it is that bad.
This is a special kind of bad, but the terribleness of this song is eclipsed only by the spectacular and dazzling heights from which it falls. It’s like watching a brilliant magician promise to pull off a show-stopping illusion, and then just fall directly forward and not turn his head away, pushing his nosebone into his brain, killing him almost instantly. “You said you wanted a show stopper, right?” he says in his dying breaths. That, readers, is like “Centipede” by Childish Gambino.
Let’s imagine for a second that this song wasn’t released as part of a sagging vanity project by a (very talented, very funny, very successful, and in all other aspects of his life, perfectly cool) Mister Donald Glover. Let’s imagine this is a nameless, amorphous song with no name and no creator that suddenly wafts into existence through a wormhole in the space-time continuum: it’s still fucking terrible. Even if it was an instrumental, it would still be bad. The beat, if you could call it that, sounds like it was made with a cracked copy of FruityLoops and a copy of Garage Band.
There’s a 40-second a cappella intro at the beginning. You can hear dogs barking. You may think it’s charming, even. It’s the musical equivalent of the ear / knife scene from Reservoir Dogs: if you know what’s coming, what terror actually awaits, the fact that an ear will be forcibly removed by a crazed madman… knowing that makes it worse. There’s a 40-second intro to a terrible situation. It’s like having a 40-second introduction to being punched in the face repeatedly and angrily by a formerly close friend.
“I know this music shit ain’t shit” says Childish Gambino. He’s right. It’s as if the song – for a flicker of a second – becomes sentient, realizing how bad it is, before returning to the task at hand and doubling down on the badness like an expert poker player at a poker tournament where all the money is instead not currency but rather piles of abject misery, childhood shame, and woe-be-gotten human suffering.
This is a song that features the line “I’m at my grandma’s house and I don’t know what to say.” Then why say anything at all, Donald? Why? Why put us through this? Why make this? Not to get all dollar-store-art-critic on you, but what is your artistic intent, what use does “Centipede” have in this modern, crazy, mixed-up world? “Centipede” begs the question of “Why?” so much as to almost be profound on a very base level – why must a song like this exist? It’s nearly existential in its badness.
What makes this all exponentially, ass-wideningly, pants-shittingly, cat-stranglingly, elephant-handjobbingly bad is the fact that Donald Glover is a likable guy in all other walks of life. Yet he is to appear less on his show “Community” to focus more on rap.
This decision is probably backed up by his agent, managers, and a few thousand fans who will enjoy whatever he puts out simply because he’s an affable and natural performer in his other realms of creativity. I cannot overstate how much talent this guy has in other areas and how bad this is. He needs to stop rapping about “trying to make it” and “failure” or whatever insecure bullshit he has to work his way through; he’s a highly successful television writer, actor, and comedian. It is like watching Stephen Hawking try professional wrestling or a hamster try its hand at economic theory. He should not continue this.
Donald Glover is a great actor, a very talented comedian, and an appallingly bad rapper.
The evidence is below. You do not have to listen to it.
Totally agree with these sentiments. Although I think it’s not so much that he is awful at rapping (he sort of is..ok? i guess?), it’s that he is infinitely better at comedy. I saw his live act where he does part stand up/part rapping. Rapping part was fun. Comedy was outstanding.
I’m really sad to hear he won’t be on Community as much this season.
I wrote that Childish Gambino’s new song isn’t very good, but you knew that already. (via nedhepburn)