Childish Gambino – STN MTN / Kauai

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Release Date: STN MTN – 10/02/14; Kauai – 10/03/14

Photo: Noteworthy

STN MTN is a mixtape that contains several firsts for Gambino. It’s a concept mixtape where Glover is asleep dreaming he “ran Atlanta”, with songs based off mostly early-to-mid 2000’s southern hip hop. The mixtape ends with Glover awaking from this dream on the Hawaiian island, Kauai. This project in a sense marked the beginning of Glover’s work on his TV show Atlanta. The mixtape contains several features and every track a different producer, which makes this release unique in Gambino’s body of work thus far. It’s his most authentically “hip-hop” release to date, featuring lots of references to Atlanta both lyrically and musically and keeping it straight hip-hop the entire time. Probably the neatest moments are the two medley-suite’s “Dream” / “Southern Hospitality” / “Partna Dem” and “Move That Dope” / “Nextel Chirp” / “Let Your Hair Blow”, but I’ll admit I’m a sucker for medley’s.

Kauai, an officially released EP shows off Gambino’s Alternative R&B side, featuring mostly sung songs with little to no rapping throughout (though there are some pretty sweet bars on “Retro [ROUGH]”), and nearly every track is as per usual, co-produced by longtime collaborator/producer Ludwig Göransson and Gambino himself, but the stylistic change makes it feel different even when there are plenty of similarities to be found. Some of Gambino’s poppiest moments are found on this project too – queue the Timberlake-esque “The Palisades”. This sound doesn’t even truly foreshadowing what was yet to come with 2016’s “Awaken, My Love!”, even; that album is more grounded in different era’s and styles of old school black-created music, whereas this EP is more like driving through Miami on a warm early Spring day with the top down.

There are a couple downsides to these releases though: the authentic early-2000’s Atlanta mixtape setup of STN MTN renders the project a bit un-cohesive and I find myself skipping the radio commercial imitation “Childish Gambino @ The Atrium”. Then on Kauai, Jaden Smith’s spoken word poetry is a bit cringe-worthy at the end of the otherwise excellent “Pop Thieves (Make it Feel Good)”, and also renders “Late Night in Kauai” completely skippable. Further, the remix of “3005”, originally from 2013’s Because the Internet, is also non-essential listening, but that is what the skip button’s for.

As for the rest of the content found here, you have two solid releases to work your way through, filled with the dense lyrical content and variety you’ve likely come to expect from Gambino.

Highlights: STN MTN -“Dream” / “Southern Hospitality” / “Partna Dem”, “No Fucks Given”, “Move That Dope” / “Nextel Chirp” / “Let Your Hair Blow” ”
Kauai – “Sober”, “Pop Thieves (Make it Feel Good)”, “Retro [ROUGH]”, “The Palisades”
Rating: 4.25/5
Download: STN MTN
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