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by Childish Gambino

Released November 15, 2011 via Glassnote Records

Reviewed November 30, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Bonfire (62%), Heartbeat (45%), Les (43%)

In 2011, the world had no idea it was listening to the birth of one of the most creative minds to pick up a mic in the form of Childish Gambino. Camp is often criticized for sub-par production and overcrowded lyricism, but we need to cut the man a break; Childish Gambino clearly had the talent to be successful in not only this industry, but also the comedy world. The former 30 Rock writer had his metaphorical hat in many rings, and was still defining who he was as a rapper. Plenty of artists work their entire careers, just focusing on rap, and never got to this level. Childish Gambino would of course go on to drop more pointed projects in Awaken My Love! and Because the Internet, but let’s not keep Camp out of the conversation of fun projects with more than enough enjoyment to offer. – Daniel (7.5/10)

Donald Glover’s major label debut as “Childish Gambino” is rife with growing pains, and a vivid reminder of his pre-rebranded artistic outlook. Open Mike Eagle recently made the claim, “Everyone that raps is a maniac,” as if becoming a rapper means embracing your lunacy and building an artistic persona around that. This trend rings true for comedians too, and Glover’s transition into Gambino demonstrates an unbridled window into those two outlets to exercise his mania in tandem. Camp, released in 2011, is a major work in progress in just about every aspect. Most verses on the record are hopelessly riddled with punchlines of varying qualities, otherwise Glover’s songwriting is written from an emotional younger self, which harmonizes sort of ironically with this album’s childish sense of humor, written by a 28-year-old. Gambino’s vocals on Camp are a far cry away from the growth he experienced as a singer through albums like Awaken, My Love! and 03.15.2020. While there are a few flashes of exciting ideas instrumentally, a good handful of them manage to be catchy, but not much more or less. Despite the numerous warranted critiques of this album, it remains an interesting window into Glover’s boundless creativity before his prime. For someone who’s shrouded in such mystique these days, Camp still stands as one of Childish Gambino’s most personally revealing and least filtered creations, allowing us to see an artist at his core. – DeVán (7/10)

Childish Gambino has undergone one of the most radical improvements for any artist in a five-year span. Unfortunately, Camp is the rock bottom Gambino started at before making “Awaken, My Love!” and Because the Internet, efforts that were miles better. Gambino overly relies on punchlines and his comedic style. However, the punchlines are, at best, hit-or-miss and, at worst, full-on corny and racist towards Asians. With a runtime of almost an hour, the fact that he rarely switches it up makes Camp all the more tedious to complete. With generally lackluster production, there’s not much else to fall back on, other than flashes of potential in aspects like singing and overall creativity. But ultimately, Camp’s best attribute is that, in its lack of quality, the rest of Gambino’s music looks a lot better in comparison. – Alan (3.5/10)

Pax: 8/10 | Daniel: 7.5/10 | DeVán: 7/10 | Pablo: 7/10 | Dominick: 6.5/10

Hadley: 6.5/10 | Cam: 3.8/10 | Ben (Synth): 3/10 | Jared: 1/10


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