Childish Gambino has had a big year so far. He dropped Because the Internet, and has been preforming at a multitude of festivals this summer. He's been teasing his fans that he'd be dropping a new project for the last few months, as long as saying he's working on an EP with Chance the Rapper (but that won't be out anytime soon). Bino explained that his new project was split into two parts, the first is called STN MTN, and it's a Gangsta Grillz mixtape, while the second part is entitled Kauai, and it's an EP, and all the proceeds go to beautification projects in Kauai. Two days ago, Gambino released STN MTN completely out of the blue, and the next day dropped Kauai. And they're both pretty weird.
STN MTN can be found at the bottom of Childish Gambino's unique blog. The mixtape opens with Gambino talking about a dream he had, where he controlled a bunch of Atlanta specific things, like local record labels and radio stations. He then says he dreamed that he had a Gangsta Grillz mixtape. And then the rest of the mixtape is just that: an Atlanta-themed Gangsta Grillz mixtape. It's basically 11 songs of trap-heavy production from Grillz and other ATL producers, with Gambino rapping the entire time. And it doesn't blend very well. The beats would blend perfectly with Future or 2 Chainz, but not at all with Bino. It just sounds really awkward to hear Bino's high voice rapping about the same stuff that Migos raps about. And having each song introduced by Grillz talking is horrendous. There are some okay songs, like "No Fucks Given" and "U Don't Have To Call", but there's also a two minute commercial of a promoter yelling about a Childish Gambino show in Atlanta. I think that Gambino was trying to be a more regional rapper on this mixtape, although I personally believe a rappers should move past regional rapping, but there are a lot of times that the songs just seem like a joke. With so much attention on the Atlanta rap scene now, I think Gambino was trying to remind everyone that he grew up there too. He summarizes the objective of this mixtape in "U Don't Have to Call": "I was never a thug and they used to respect me for it, but now the game's fucked up and I gotta Micheal Coreleone these niggas". Or, this whole mixtape could just be a joke to Gambino.
Kauai is a completely different story. The EP contains lovely, floating instrumentation with Gambino singing for most of the EP. It truly sounds like being on a beach. Some of the production sounds reminiscent of 80's pop music, but with a contemporary twist. Rapping is sparse in this EP; instead Bino sings in the majority of the songs. Kauai is not without it's odd elements either. One song contain Jaden Smith somewhat rapping. Yes, Jaden Smith. That guy with the horrendously "deep" tweets. Smith is supposedly portraying "the Boy", who was the main character in Bino's screenplay.
STN MTN feels like a bad continuation of R O Y A L T Y , while Kauai feels more similar to Because the Internet. While the mixtape and the EP sound completely different, they are supposed to go into each other, and they both feature some of the same subjects: women, success, insecurities. I appreciate that Gambino is trying something different, but as the saying goes: "Don't fix something that isn't broken".