When Childish Gambino released Camp last November, he got mixed reviews. It was a concept album that he felt like he had to make–for himself. Some people really liked it and could relate to it; others hated it. After a short break Donald went back on his grind. No, like the actual, traditional “grind.” We can only speculate what exactly Gambino was thinking. I think he felt like he had to earn his way back into people’s hearts. He had to earn (back) the respect of even the most pretentious hip-hop heads. He took to a select few classic hip-hop radio stations and just freestyled and freestyled and worked on his ability in front of the nation. Through this process he let people in a bit on his process and just how much he respects the art. It has steadily worked leading up to the release of this tape, named after his crew. In a lot of people’s minds, this is make or break time for Childish. The success of this mixtape will determine a large part of his fan base, moving forward with him into a sophomore release. Unlike most of the blogosphere, I listened to R O Y A L T Y before writing about it.
It’s good. Gambino successfully matches bars with some of the best rappers in the game (really though, Bun B, RZA, Danny Brown, etc.). Production goes back to a more traditional hip-hop sound instead of Camp‘s more orchestral sound. The whole feel of the mixtape is that it’s a mixtape. There’s no higher concept here, other than the fact that Childish Gambino is here to stay and has a bunch of respected, famous friends. There are also a few little cool things on this mixtape.
- CG and Bun B go in over “Nightcall” from the Drive soundtrack on “R.I.P.” Apparently, it was Bun B’s idea. Weird.
- “Toxic” samples the Britney Spear’s song of the same name.
- This project marks the first time Gambino has worked closely with other producers.
- Frequent Childish co-producer Ludwig produced HAIM‘s debut EP, and Danielle Haim is featured on “Won’t Stop,” which is produced by Gambino and Ludwig.
- Sunset favorite Chance the Rapper is featured on “They Don’t Like Me.” He does his thing on that track. Shout out to him. Shout out to the shows he’s about to do with Donald.
- “We Ain’t Them,” “Shoulda Known,” and “Won’t Stop” are first listen stand-outs. Maybe that’s because they’re the most Camp sounding tracks. The Kilo Kish collab is cool, too.
- Tina Fey is the most gangster ever.