Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Childish Gambino: Culdesac [free download, 2011]
Community regular, 30 Rock writer, and stand-up phenom Donald Glover brings more skills to the rap game than any pretender in years, fellow actor Drake included. His rhymes startle and amuse, his flow bubbles and snaps, his beats always get him where he's going, and on the expert pop song "Got This Money" he hits the high notes on his own. One reason hip-hop has no use for him is that high notes are his thing--delivering his rent-a-hook, Lil Jon sounds gangsta on comparative timbre alone. Another is that he didn't buy his $10,000 jacket by dealing rock or fronting about it over beats he bought too. "Welcome to the culdesac this is where the street ends," he taunts, and out of the great goodness of his heart he spent years giving records away and then touring behind them. Right, he's too keen on proving something even if all the success and sexcess stories are true. That's why I like him best when I'm surest he's lying, which is on that pop song: "I wanna feel you for real." A-