Childish Gambino – Royalty

Originally posted July 4th, 2012 on Intersections.

tl;dr – Childish Gambino has lots of really famous friends, is tired of being shit on, and really likes bass.

Download for: “One Up,” “Unnecessary,” “R.I.P” and “Toxic” … really it’s all pretty good though.

First of all, if the mixtape’s title seems a little egotistical to you, just take a look at the featured artists on the track list. Nipsey Hussle, ScHoolboy Q, RZA, and Ghostface Killah, just to name a few… not to mention Tina Fey. At first glance, Royalty is an 18 track leviathan, but for the most part, Gambino keeps the tracks short and sweet. Overall, Royalty’s sound vacillates between the relentless rumbling of the 808 in the back and the slower, almost faltering beat of fatigue and hesitation. Gambino is overwhelmingly aware of being perceived as a comedian/actor who happens to rap on the side. Royalty pulls somes of those punchlines and goes in on the bass, pushing back against his haters. Read on for a track by track:

1. “Royalty”

It’s royalty, it’s ROYALTY!

2. “We Ain’t Them” – prod. Ludwig and Childish Gambino

Back of my mind though, I hope the show gets cancelled
Maybe then I can focus 

As a fan of Community, I can’t support this lyric…

No cosign, no bovine
More swag, pull back on the punchlines
Starving, every track means lunch time
I’m a star, how could I not shine?

This track briefly highlights Gambino’s unique career path, including the 30 Rock reference and how he was never cosigned with another rapper. Essentially, how he made it on his own, in his own way. Is this a dig at Young Money? I wonder. Recall from “All the Shine” – I ain’t Curren$y, but if there ain’t money in my name please murder me.

3. “One Up ft. Steve G Lover” – prod. Childish Gambino
First up, the Lil Wayne impression by Donald Glover’s brother, Steve G Lover, at the beginning is uncanny. I actually double-checked the track list to make sure I didn’t overlook a Lil Wayne feature. Granted, Lil Wayne would’ve had to lower his voice a bit. Steve drops a DJ Khaled reference at the end of his verse: All I do is win so who the hell’s losing. Brothers working together, doing their thing, I like –You ain’t liking what we doing? Shut up. But best lyric:

American royalty, on that YOLO, Ralph Lauren.

4. “Black Faces ft. Nipsey Hu$$le” – prod. Boy-1da
Following up where “One Up” left off, this beat is hard and goes in on the nature of black fame.

League of my own, swag Geena Davis 

5. “Unnecessary ft. ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul” – prod. Childish Gambino
How hard this beat goes in is unnecessary. The bass earned me a noise complaint. Well done.

Fuck y’all, we A-Team, y’all Plan B like Walgreens. 

6. “Shoulda Known” – prod. Childish Gambino
Chiller, reflective, uncertain.

One love, the thing that hasn’t change
My parents lost their job
It’s so cold in the A
Now that I’m 1%, I send most of it home

7. “R.I.P ft. Bun B” – prod. Childish Gambino
Bun B rapping over Kavinsky’s “Nightcall?” I can fuck with that.

Runnin’ with a new breed, me and Bun B
This hip-hop nation, this big country
Nigga please! We ain’t stop for no one.

8. “American Royalty ft. RZA and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble” – prod. Childish Gambino
Featured artists RZA and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble open the track, though the sound is a bit messy and awkwardly arranged at best. However the track calms down and redeems itself when Gambino takes over.

RZA verse: We breaking more backs that Somitino/Bruno, we saw more baselines than Juno
Gambino verse: Packing them crowds up, boss like Bowser.

9. “It May Be Glamour Life ft. Ghostface Killah” – prod. Myke Murda
The same creepy “It’s royalty, it’s ROYALTY!” from the intro is played over this trance-like. Why so short!?

I’m with the Childish Gambino
On that Eastwood shit, pushin’ a Gran Turino
Tarantino don’t got reservoir dogs like mine 

10. “Toxic ft. Danny Brown” – prod. SKYWLKR
Gambino’s interesting sampling streak continues with the strings and vocals from BRITNEY SPEARS’ “Toxic.” Danny Brown goes apeshit all over this track.  Stripped of her own production team, Brit Brit’s voice suddenly turns into this ethereal/acidy goodness – Too high, can’t come down~ 

Midas is your highness and you horrible like Gummi bears
Why I’m fly like a cockpit, you don’t fly like a ostrich
Stupid shit like a mosh pit, can’t believe this is “Toxic”

11. “Silk Pillow ft. Beck” – prod. Beck and Childish Gambino
Beck’s up first with some pseudo-rap ish, interesting. This track takes the piano from “Hold You Down” of  Camp down an octave or two and draws it out, turning it into a fatigued almost faltering sound. As the rapping drops out, a flute track reminiscent of “All the Shine” comes in as the song plays itself out.

Baby mama, I’m your baby, mama
Man, let your boy drown, they ain’t save me, momma

12. “They Don’t Like Me ft. Chance the Rapper” – prod. SKYWLKR
Reef.

Eddy Scissorhands is workin’ on my linin’
Gettin’ spiffy for these bitches I be eyeing

13. “Arrangement ft. Gonage” – prod. Childish Gambino
More of that ominous ish.

You don’t know Childish, nigga me neither
Eastside Atlanta, flyest n**** in a Waffle House. 

14. “Won’t Stop ft. Danielle Haim of Haim” – prod. Ludwig and Childish Gambino
Gambino breaks out his vocals a bit more for some lower-key sad ish :/

Now that I’m on top, are you proud of me?

 15. “Bronchitis” – prod. Beck
The vocal loop track swells and subsides like a sigh…

I’m sharing experiments with Seventh Day Adventists,
and on the seventh day Imma show you all what the event is.

16. “Wonderful ft. Josh Osho” – prod. Boy-1da
The intro seems as if it’s going to bring the mixtape’s mood back up, but NOPE. Gambino gets into some real stuff from his past. The hook’s all high and great, but damn…

My little sis’ mom got shot, she in the newspapeExplainr
Prayers couldn’t save her, she died a day later

17. “Make It Go Right ft. Kilo Kish” – prod. Childish Gambino
Beautiful, chilllllllllllllll.

18. “Real Estate ft. Alley Boy, Swank, and Tina Fey” – prod. Childish Gambino
The mixtape’s finale opens with a looped organ, then the bass hits, reinforced by a creepy piano melody. Epic track, Gambino back on his game, giving no fucks… then cue Tina Fey.

Yeah, we in here, we in this thing.
Gambino is forever, royalty is forever.

We ballin’ so we fucking up the hardwood  homie.
This is the life we live son.
My president is black and my priest is blue motherfucker.
Royalty all day, dropping racks at Nordstrom’s, son.
That’s racks on racks, damn it. Son, you feel me? YOU FEEL ME?!
This is the part where most people would say something crazy and drop the n-word after it
Not going to do that, not gonna do that, I don’t feel comfortable.
I’M OUT.

The mixtape ends on a quintessentially Gambino track with all its odd orchestral sounds and lol-worthy verses by some very famous friends. Ultimately, “Real Estate” is the pinnacle of what Royalty tries to achieve. It is both a work that expresses Gambino’s self-assurance and others’ validation of his abilities.

Why is this an Independence Day release? I have no idea, but I don’t really care. This mixtape is going to be on infinite loop for a while.

Listen on Soundcloud.
You should be able to download it on Childish Gambino’s website, but it’s down currently. However you can find a download pretty easily.

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