Childish Gambino Because the Internet (Glassnote)
A really massive mainstream album is trapped somewhere within the mind of Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover of Community fame). However, because of his insistence on doing things his way, his musical complexities block that stream from flowing. Some may see this as a good thing. Where Camp was his autobiography, Because the Internet is his artistic testament to the hip-hop community. The album hybrids the pop crooning of Drake with the abrasive electronic sounds of Kanye West and is sprinkled with Gambino’s own highbrow humor and expansive wordplay. From the dreamy lyrical ride of “The Worst Guys” to the chilling “No Exit,” Gambino’s latest is performance art from an actor who knows how to deliver. ★★★★✩
Dam-Funk & Snoopzilla 7 Days of Funk (Stones Throw)
Snoop Dogg has been flirting with an identity crisis for the past year. From his reggae-infused Snoop Lion to the newly minted funk doctor Snoopzilla, the Cali rapper is seemingly having more fun than ever. 7 Days of Funk is no exception as the album takes the “Sexual Eruption” Snoop Dogg and puts it on steroids as Dam-Funk injects the album with relentless funk. Not to be taken too seriously, Snoop playfully bounds about on “Do My Thang” as if it were a gangster Zapp & Roger song. Although nonsensical at times, 7 Days of Funk is the perfect album for a Soul Train line and a game of dominoes. ★★★✩✩
An Ode to Reasonable Doubt (Loyalty Digital Corp)
With An Ode to Reasonable Doubt, New York MC Skyzoo and producer Antman Wonder pay homage to Jay Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt. They do so in a flattering manner that doesn’t desecrate the original. The influence is evident as the original production gets revamped while Skyzoo’s rhymes snare bits and pieces from Jay Z’s lyric sheet. It works beautifully on “Meeting the Presidents,” where the lush instrumental and rhymes about acquiring wealth mesh. “The Hustle Never Sleeps” doesn’t fare as well. The song follows too closely to the original, making it border on creative karaoke. One misstep doesn’t doom the project, and An Ode to Reasonable Doubt is a well-done ode to a contemporary classic. ★★★✩✩
Upcoming on Andreas’ radar …
JANUARY 7: Kid Ink will drop his second studio album, My Own Lane, to kick off the new year. It’s littered with a plethora of guests, but let’s hope it doesn’t overpower his sound. JANUARY 21: Longtime collaborators Evidence and Alchemist join forces for another Step Brothers album. Lord Steppington will hopefully be another feather in the cap for the tandem.