A 300-word reaction to my first listen of the album:
Because The Internet has an immediate cloud of restraint hovering over it and Childish Gambino, for the most part, sounds like he’s not fully invested in the music. Many of the instrumentals unfold into a grand layout of strings and synths, with Gambino singing beautifully in the background. Unfortunately, that grand serenading ambiance comes to a screeching halt when he starts to rap. He’s either mixed too loudly over the beat or off-rhythm completely—which is probably intentional, but the execution doesn’t go through as well as the pure unorthodoxy of an Earl Sweatshirt.
"Shadows", one where he sings, starts off as a distinctive R&B tune but it’s his eventual rap flow that knocks the momentum off-kilter. Even when the beat drops and he "amps it up", there’s no real change in his output of energy. ”3005” from its sappiness to its vocal style is a blatant imitation of Drake. The hook goes: “No matter what you say or what you do/ When I’m alone, I’d rather be with you/ Fuck these other niggas, I’ll be right by your side/ Till 3005, hold up” (That’s so Drake!). The raps here are lackluster and dull: “Got no patience, cause I’m not a doctor/ Girl why is you lying, girl why you Mufasa?”
The brighter spots seem like they may come when rappers and singers with star quality appear, but that’s not even the case here. “Worst Guys” features Chance The Rapper who is limited to a repetitive “All she needed was some…” on the hook while C.G. rhymes the t.v. show Smart Guy with apartheid (smh). “The Oldest Computer (The Last Night)” features Azealia Banks just singing on the hook, too, overpowering Gambino on the song before it makes a weird transition to Pitbull-like production and a telephone-filter of his voice. Because The Internet is scattered, distant and predictable and Gambino has yet to carve out a distinctive brand of music. Instead, he relies on sub-Earl quirky techniques and a copy-cat style of Drake’s singing. Pass on this.