Mixtape Review | Childish Gambino – Royalty

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This mixtape was released on July 4th in 2012. I’m pretty sure PHAROS is being premiered today—September 2nd, 2016—but I haven’t heard a single person mention it at all. I know he’s performing it live at the Joshua Tree National Park in California. I guess nobody’s gonna hear it until then. I’m not sure what time that’s happening. I just hope he makes the album available to purchase later today. I hope people that couldn’t go to the event don’t have to wait a week just to hear the music. Let’s talk about this mixtape tho. I remember being really excited for this. It came out a few months after I had first started listening to Hip Hop. I was assuming that it’d be more music like what was on Camp & Culdesac. I ended up being pretty disappointed tho. I don’t really remember why. I think I disliked it because it sounded like the same music every other rapper was making at the time. I only skimmed it once tho. The only tracks I took from it were Sour Face, R.I.P. & Black Faces. Oh… I’m looking at the tracklist right now… Sour Face isn’t on this tape? Really? What project is it on then? Hold up, lemme look this shit up… Oh. Okay, apparently Donald’s DJ, SoSuperSam, released a mixtape called Trigger Happy, which is what Sour Face landed on. Huh. That’s interesting. I guess… Anyway, I’m expecting this tape to be decent at best. Hopefully it’s better in retrospect. I never really gave it much of a chance in the first place just because it didn’t sound like the shit I typically expect from Gambino. Maybe I just need to try to keep an open mind. Alright, here we go. Every song is self produced, except where noted.

Track 1: R O Y A L T Y (Prod. Blake Griffin)

Nah. This was a 9 second intro in which Blake Griffin—yes, the basketball player—tells the listener that this mixtape is Royalty. I’m not sure that anyone really needed a reminder, but I’m not gonna think too much about this track.

Track 2: We Ain’t Them (Co-Prod. Ludwig Göransson)

We Ain't Them

Oh shit… This beat actually sounds really great so far. Donald’s goin’ in now. Wow. I’m actually really surprised by how good this is. The beat is dope af, and Gambino’s flow is great. Hmm… You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being the only song on this tape that actually sounds like it fits in with Gambino’s other work. “More swag; pull back on the punchlines.” I don’t think changing from a punchline rapper to a swag rapper is a good move… This song is really good tho. This isn’t really Swag Rap tho. This is a really dope way to start the album. It’s just one long verse over a great beat. I fuck with this track. It’s dope af to me. 5/5

Track 3: One Up Feat. Steve G. Lover

One Up

This beat is hard as fuck. Wow. This hook… Nah. Okay, now THIS is Swag Rap. Jesus. You know, this really sounds a lot like the shit that would’ve appeared on STN MTN. If he gave that same disclaimer about this not being a serious Childish Gambino project that he did about STN MTN, a lot of people probably would’ve been far less disappointed. At this point it’s obvious that he wasn’t serious. I understand why people would’ve been concerned at the time tho. Having one of the most promising upcoming rappers drop a project like this was pretty disheartening. This Steve Glover guy is just Donald’s little brother. He sounds A LOT like Lil Wayne. He sounds even more like Wayne than Donald did when he put out Sick Boi. This hook is REALLY cringe worthy. Steve’s verse was cool tho. His flow was really dope. His verse was fine. As a Trap song, I think this is actually pretty well done. I mean, the hook is still pretty corny to me, but aside from that I don’t really have any problems with it so far. Donald’s verse was cool. I actually enjoyed this song. I definitely prefer Gambino’s more traditional style, but I can accept him making Trap Music every now and then as long as it’s done well. This is a cool track. HOWEVER, I don’t really think I’d ever have the desire to come back to this. After about 5 minutes I forgot that I even listened to this shit. It’s pretty forgettable. I don’t think it’s bad tho. I kinda enjoyed it while I was listening to it. It’s just not something I’d care to hear again. It’s decent tho. 3/5

Track 4: Black Faces Feat. Nipsey Hussle (Prod. Boi-1da)

Black Faces.png

I already know this song. I really like it. Oh shit. Okay, I just checked the PHAROS website. I think he’s premiering the album at 9 PM CST, and it’s only 5:45 PM CST right now, so I guess that explains why nobody’s talking about. I’m really wondering when people who didn’t go to the premier will be able to hear the album. He’ll probably put it on iTunes on the 6th. Fuck… Alright, whatever. Lemme get back to this tape. Nipsey’s on the first verse of this song. I really don’t know what to make of Nipsey Hussle. I mean, he’s cool, but I feel like he’s just not… I don’t know. His music is just so forgettable to me. It’s usually a bunch of fantastic beats with Nipsey rapping about how awesome his life is in a humble way. Nothing he says ever really impresses me, but nothing he says is ever really that bad either. He’s cool. Listening to a full project from him gets pretty boring for me, but he’s never really stood out to me in a good or bad way. He’s just kinda there. His verse here was cool I guess. It didn’t add much for me, but I don’t mind it being here. The beat is dope af. I actually really like this hook too. The verse from Gambino was great. I really don’t have any problems with this song. It’s dope. I don’t think it’s super amazing or anything, but I enjoyed it. This is dope to me. 4/5

Track 5: Unnecessary Feat. ScHoolboy Q & Ab-Soul


I don’t remember this song at all. I mean, I remember the hook being really underwhelming, but I don’t remember any of the verses or the beat. It’s starting now. Alright, this beat is dope. I’m starting to get tired of this style tho… I still think he’s doing it well. I typically don’t like music like this, so it gets old to me pretty quickly. In terms of the content, this whole tape has been pretty goddamn generic. Donald had a cool flow on the first verse tho. The hook is still underwhelming to me 4 years later. Q fuckin’ killed that second verse. Maybe it’s just ’cause I’m used to him making music like this. He fit perfectly on this shit tho. The way the beat switches for Soulo’s verse is kinda jarring. I got used to it pretty quickly tho. His verse was dope. Honestly… I mean… Don’t take this the wrong way, but I really think this would’ve worked better if it was a solo ScHoolboy Q track. He sounded the most comfortable on this shit. I’m not even sayin’ that Donald & Soulo didn’t sound comfortable on this beat ’cause they did. Q just sounded way MORE comfortable. I really think he could’ve made a great song with this beat. I enjoyed this track while I was listening to it, but I don’t think I’d ever have the desire to play it again. It’s decent tho. I definitely don’t think it’s bad. 3/5

Track 6: Shoulda Known

Shoulda Known

This beat is really dope. The hook kinda sucks tho. The first verse was cool. I just finished listening to the whole song. I liked it. It’s kinda forgettable, but that could be said about most of the songs on this tape so far. I enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll really feel the need to come back to it often. It’s dope tho. I like the song. It’s just not very memorable. 4/5

Track 7: R.I.P. Feat. Bun B

I love this song. It samples that Nightcall song that was in the movie Drive. The beat is dope af, and I love the way Donald chopped the sample for the hook. In terms of production, this is easily my favorite song on the whole tape so far. Bun B’s verse at the beginning was great. The hook is fucking incredible. Gambino’s verse was dope af too. “Drop a new track, all blogs go to heaven.” I really, really, REALLY fuck with this song. I love this shit. It’s dope af to me. 5/5

Track 8: American Royalty Feat. RZA & Hypnotic Brass Orchestra

R O Y A L T Y 6

Okay this should be interesting… It’s starting now. RZA’s on the first verse. He killed it. That was really dope. The beat’s nothing special to be honest. Oh. It just switched up for Donald’s verse. It just sounds like a more electronic version of the first part of the beat. It’s really dope tho. Gambino’s verse was great. I fuck with this song. I’m not super amazed, but I enjoyed it. This is dope to me. 4/5

Track 9: It May Be Glamour Life Feat. Ghostface Killah (Prod. Myke Murda)

It May Be Glamour Life

It’s kinda cool that Donald got to work with Ghost & RZA since he got the Childish Gambino pseudonym from that Wu-Tang Name Generator. You wanna know what my Wu-Tang name apparently is? WICKED DREAMER. That’s right. WICKED DREAMER. Pretty corny, right? Pretty much every name that I enter in the Wu-Tang Name Generator gives me a painfully cringe worthy Rap name. Anyway, the song is starting now. The tags on this tape are kinda annoying. This one had Kristen Schaal’s annoying ass voice laughing and saying “It’s Royalty!” SHUT THE FUCK UP. Just kidding, it’s not that bad. Ghostface is goin’ in now. This beat is dope af. Ghost’s verse was dope. What the hell? The song just ended… It was just one verse from Ghostface. I guess this is supposed to be an interlude or something. Whatever. I enjoyed the track. This is dope to me. 4/5

Track 10: Toxic Feat. Danny Brown (Prod. skywlkr)

This beat is really dope. Danny Brown is on the first verse. So far all of the features have had the first verses on the songs that they’re featured on, aside from ScHoolboy Q & Ab-Soul. Danny Brown’s verse was cool I guess. Ugh… I’m not feelin’ this hook. They sampled Britney Spears. It’s the same sample that was in Astronaut Pussy by The Game. I’m not feelin’ this song so far… It sounds like a throwaway Danny Brown song that Gambino freestyled over. This is actually a really boring song. I’m really not feelin’ this one. This is wack to me. 2/5

Track 11: Silk Pillow Feat. Beck (Co-Prod. Beck)

Silk Pillow

Beck… Ya know, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard a single song by him. The only reason I even know who he is is because of Futurama & The Grammys. Didn’t he win a Grammy for album of the year in 2013? I remember Kanye being pissed that Beyoncé didn’t win. Anyway, this beat is pretty dope. Beck’s rapping the first verse. He did his thing I guess. I like the Electronic sounding production that comes in before Gambino’s verse. The song just ended. Meh. I’m not gonna be coming back to this one. I’m pretty goddamn bored right now. The production was kinda cool, and Gambino’s flow wasn’t bad, but aside from that absolutely nothing about this track stands out to me. It’s decent tho. I guess. 3/5

Track 12: They Don’t Like Me Feat. Chance The Rapper (Prod. skywlkr)

They Don't Like Me

This beat sounds kinda cheap. It’s fine tho. Donald spit a few bars on the intro and now Chance is goin’ in on a full verse. Nah. I wasn’t feelin’ Chance’s verse. His flow was pretty dope by the time he got to the last few bars, but his melodic delivery at the beginning was annoying as fuck. He really doesn’t fit well over this type of production. Jesus. This isn’t good… I’m not feelin’ this one at all. This is wack to me. 2/5

Track 13: Arrangement Feat. Gonage

What the fuck? Was that Chief Keef? Remember how I mentioned the tag from Kristen Schaal? Well, Chief Keef did it on this song. I don’t really mind it. I just wasn’t expecting that. This beat is actually pretty dope. I don’t know who this Gonage guy is, but he’s on the first verse. “I got yo bitch layin’ naked ‘cross the bed, no rosary / Stackin’ up this bread like a baker; Josephine.” Oh no… I’m not gonna like this song. It sounds like Gonage jacked Juicy J’s flow. I’m not feelin’ his verse at all. I might as well just be listening to a Juicy J song right now. The beat is dope tho. I’m not feelin’ the hook. Gambino’s verse was decent. Nah. This song is wack to me. 2/5

Track 14: Won’t Stop Feat. Danielle Haim (Co-Prod. Ludwig Göransson)

Alright, I’m ready for this tape to be over. Honestly, I’ve been ready for this tape to be over ever since I passed the Ghostface song. Well, I guess that makes sense since I’ve disliked every single song after that. I’m bored as hell right now. This whole tape is generic as fuck. I’m sorry. I’ll save that shit for my final thoughts. This song is starting now. Oh God… I’m not feelin’ Danielle Haim’s hook. Why the fuck is this tape so long? Did we really need 18 tracks of this generic bullshit? Fuck my life, man. Good fucking God. I’m sorry, but I can’t fucking stand Danielle’s vocals on the hook. It just sounds so fucking whiny and annoying to me for some reason. I don’t even know why. I’m sorry if there are any Haim fans reading this. Now Donald’s singing on the outro. This is definitely the wackest song on the whole album so far. I don’t like a single thing about this song. It’s just pissing me the fuck off. Donald’s verse sounded like every other rapper’s verse. This is wack af. 1/5

Track 15: Bronchitis (Prod. Beck)

This beat is pretty dope. Donald’s flow on the first verse is kinda cool. What the motherfuck? What the hell just happened? The song just… I don’t even know how to explain this. The song just started stuttering. It looks like that was intentional. I thought I got a bad download of this tape or something, but everyone online is saying the same thing happened for them. It’s only a few lines tho. This is a really boring verse lyrically. The song just ended. Jesus fucking Christ. Is he TRYING to bore his listeners to death? Fuck. I’m sorry. I just really want this shit to end so I can listen to Because The Internet. I’m not feelin’ this song. This is wack to me. 2/5

Track 16: Wonderful Feat. Josh Osho (Prod. Boi-1da)

I’m kinda surprised by how bad the second half of this mixtape is. As soon as I passed the halfway point this shit just completely fell off. Alright, this song is starting now. This beat is really dope. The hook from Josh Osho is fine. This is easily the most personal song on the whole mixtape. It’s cool I guess. I don’t think I’d ever have the desire to play this shit again, but it’s not really bad. It’s just not that good. There’s just one verse. It was cool. But nah. I’m not gonna listen to this ever again. 3/5

Track 17: Make It Go Right Feat. Kilo Kish

Make It Go Right

Kilo Kish’s flow on this first verse is corny as fuck to me. I’m not feelin’ this beat. Kilo Kish’s verse is pure cringe. I’m not feelin’ this shit at all so far. Nothing about this song is appealing to me. I don’t like the sugary, sweet, love-oriented lyrics. Even Gambino’s flow is kinda lame to me on this track. I actually kinda like the hook. I’m not feelin’ anything else about this song tho. This is wack to me. 2/5

Track 18: Real Estate Feat. Alley Boy, Swank & Tina Fey

Real Estate

This beat is dope af. Gambino’s verse was cool. I actually kinda fuck with the hook. Alley Boy did his thing on the second verse. For whatever reason I got him mixed up with Lily Allen. I really have no idea how the fuck that happened. Eh… I liked the hook at first, but it’s a little too slow for me. I’m getting bored. Oh. There are only two verses. Swank is just talking shit on the outro. I wonder what Tina Fey is about to do… Lmao. She came in right behind Swank and started talking shit. “My president is black and my Prius is blue, motherfucker.” Okay, her outro was actually pretty funny. “This is the part where most people would say something crazy and drop the n-word after it. Not going to; not gonna do that. I don’t feel comfortable.” Alright, I’m done with this tape. This wasn’t a good song. I mean, it was decent, but it got boring pretty quickly. It’s tolerable I guess. I definitely won’t be coming back to this shit tho. 3/5

Final Thoughts:

Nah. I didn’t like this tape. I got more songs out of it than I expected to, but it was still just not good. As I said earlier, all I wanted was for this tape to be over when I got to the halfway point. That’s kinda weird too because I’d been enjoying the majority of the songs on this tape until then. So many of them are just really forgettable tho. I don’t even know why. Maybe it’s just because of the content. I kinda feel like almost everything I loved about Gambino before is gone from this tape. I mean, I like his delivery and flow on a lot of these tracks, but it doesn’t really feel like he’s being himself anymore. This isn’t nerdy Rap. This isn’t introspective Rap. None of Gambino’s lyrics really stood out at all either. It’s just a really generic tape. I mean, the production is good, and Gambino’s still rapping well technically. He doesn’t sound like himself tho. One of the main reasons I liked his other work so much was because it was super relatable. I can’t relate to fuckin’ One Up. He made the same music that everyone else makes on this tape. I mean, I still kinda enjoyed a decent amount of these songs. I think he did a decent job with this style. It’s just not what I’d wanna hear from Gambino. If I didn’t know that he followed this shit up with Because The Internet, I would be super worried right now. Well, I WAS super worried when I first heard this tape. This isn’t a Childish Gambino tape to me. This is a generic mainstream rapper’s tape. It’s cool, but it has zero personality. I can’t really connect with it in any way. I really think that him following this up with Because The Internet changed my perspective of the whole project. Before I looked at it as Gambino selling out. Now I just look at it as a cheap throwaway project that Donald shat out for fun, just like that STN MTN tape he made in 2014. So yeah. I didn’t like this shit at all. It’s Donald Glover making the same generic Hip Hop music that every other rapper makes. Again, this doesn’t even feel like a Childish Gambino project. I feel like I could’ve gotten this from anyone. It’s not the worst project I’ve ever heard, but compared to the other shit that Gambino had been putting out at the time, it’s a hell of a disappointment.

Favorite Song: R.I.P.

Least Favorite Song: Won’t Stop




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