Childish Gambino – This Is America
In recent years, Childish Gambino has moved from main act to bit player in the sprawling Donald Glover portfolio. Gambino, originally a jokey rap vehicle, found mainstream success with the P-Funk pastiche of his 2016 album “Awaken, My Love!”, but that wider recognition coincided with Glover himself being increasingly praised for his skill set in full, rather than his individual talents. In his opening monologue for “SNL” this past weekend, even Glover veiled his own rapping past: “It all kinda worked out for me, I was on a show called ‘Community,’ I play Lando Calrissian in the new Star Wars movie Solo, and if you’re black, I made ‘Atlanta’ and ‘Redbone,’” he joked. “I’m an actor, writer, and a singer,” he summarized. It’s hard to parse the value or intent of this constant omission of rap, especially given “Atlanta”’s deft focus on the rap industry, but one thing is clear: Childish Gambino, the rapper, has become an anachronism.
“This Is America,” then, is a bit of a reset. Here, he uses the ambivalent reception of black art to represent the tightrope of being black. Built on the sharp contrast between jolly, syncretic melodies and menacing trap cadences, the song presents Childish Gambino as confident and cutting. “This is America!” he chants as the song swings between harmony and discord. Choice background vocals embellish both moods: cherubic hums and ecstatic screams for the singing sections; and manic ad-libs for the rap verses, often provided by other rappers (21 Savage, Young Thug, Quavo, Slim Jxmmi, and Blocboy JB). Glover’s voice bridges the two worlds, dropping to an austere deadpan for his rapping and ascending to a syrupy coo for his singing. “Don’t catch you slippin’ up,” Glover warns as he pulls off the balancing act with ease. In his past music, this versatility would have been a humblebrag; here it becomes conflict.
The video for “This Is America,” directed by Glover’s frequent collaborator Hiro Murai, turns this tension into satire. Bare-chested and sprightly, Glover trots through a warehouse dancing and gunning people down; seamlessly transitioning between these activities, his face is inscrutable, hidden behind a smile. The video and song use the candor of trap to ground the rapture of black joy, and thus the ambivalence of the United States’ relation to blackness. “Are we your blessing or your bane?” Glover seems to ask. It’s an urgent and worthwhile question.
The bulk of Childish Gambino’s work trafficks in iconoclasm, distinction from the rest of the rap pack; hearing him adopt such Atlantan sensibilities, backed mostly by Atlanta rappers, almost feels like revisionism. He is fromAtlanta, but that connection has only recently migrated into his work and has often felt transactional, a trend that continues here. It’s hard not to wonder what he gains from this reclaiming of his hometown. “This Is America” works without such self-examination, but Glover’s stake in this conversation is noticeably absent. Glover powerfully invokes America’s testy relationship with blackness, but what about his own?
Maribou State – Turnmills
In 1990s London, rave was king of the night, and Turnmill was the first club to get a 24-hour operation license. The warehouse operation became a must-attend hotspot for fashionable nightcrawlers of the dancing kind. Themed nights with names including Xanadu and Trade took over its nonstop programming, filling the foggy walls with revelers and electronic grooves no matter the hour.
In 2008, Turnmill was closed for good. Its lease had expired and would not be renewed. The warehouse was destroyed and turned into an office building, but its legacy lives on in the hearts of London’s artists and musicians, including Maribou State‘s Chris Davids and Liam Ivory.
“Turnmills was where we first experienced electronic music in a club setting,” Ivory is quoted in a press release. “It’s a totally different and transformative listening experience and that communal spirit, atmosphere and feeling has inspired the way we’ve made music. Clubs are such important hubs for music discovery, especially of songs that you might have overlooked in a different setting. Partly through the feeling in the room and also through the memories attached to the records you hear.”
The electronic duo breaks a three-year silence with a new song inspired by and named after the iconic club. It’s a chill groove that attempts to capture the feeling the friends once felt dancing all night in its hallowed spaces.
“We wrote ‘Turnmills’ the day after a Dama Dama label party at the East London club Shapes (shut down in 2016),” Maribou State’s Chris is quoted. “Our studio is housed in the same building actually … The vibe of the night brought back memories of our formative clubbing experiences, and that energy ended up being channeled straight back into the studio the next day.”
Read the rest of this article at Billboard
Colin Magalong- Bodies In A Room
A few months ago we posted a track from newcomer Colin Magalong. “Blossom,” a funky dance floor starter was followed by, “Melo,” a downtempo pop tune, and this week the LA-based singer songwriter has dropped the stunning “Bodies In A Room.”
Reminding me of Daft Punk at their climactic best, “Bodies In a Room” is a disco-infused pop record with Magalong’s lively vocals giving it an added touch of class.
There’s a real feel-good vibe going on with this one, “Bodies In A Room” is the type of track ideal for playing loud on a warm summer evening.
Colin Magalong is one to watch in 2018.
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