Childish Gambino, “Because the Internet” (Glassnote)
Donald Glover’s newest album as Childish Gambino is a self-aware portrait of a young man isolated by technology, celebrity and relentless introspection. Anyone who caught Glover’s recent bloodletting Instagram session (in which he listed a barrage of self-criticisms on hotel stationery) might think that unplugging from the Web would give his brain a much-deserved break. But then he’d have lost his source material for this sometimes goofy, often sad, very capable laptop-rap album.
Trollish Web-culture jokes abound here (there’s a song named after the indicted hacker Weev and the popular fight-video site Worldstar Hip-Hop), but it’s all done in service of documenting the rootless, distracted millennial male mind. “3005” is a lush, electro-bendy production where he tries to muster up a commitment to fidelity; “Crawl” takes moves from Odd Future’s gnarled, noisy goth-rap while “No Exit” nails the aimless night-driving of a guy who wants to be out late but suspects he’s too old for this.
For fans who will miss his less-than-entirely-jovial exit from his day job on NBC’s “Community,” “Because the Internet” carves a place for him in today’s Web-addled indie-rap world, even if some offline fresh air might do him some good as well.
August Brown, Los Angeles Times
B.O.B, “Underground Luxury” (Atlantic)
B.o.B arrived as a crafty, pop-leaning rapper-producer, scoring big hits with Bruno Mars on “Nothin’ on You” and Paramore’s Hayley Williams on “Airplanes.” But the follow-up failed to click as well, so now we get “Underground Luxury,” where he mostly dumbs down his sound to its most formulaic and crass, while cultivating an anti-hero persona.
He shows some style in “Headband” and some soul-searching in “Coastline,” but mostly it’s about buying crap, using women and putting out half-baked conspiracy theories, then wondering why people think he’s a jerk. “I guess I bit off more than I could chew,” he laments in “Nobody Told Me.” Guess so.
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Various artists, “The Wolf of Wall Street Soundtrack” (Virgin)
Unlike the soundtrack from Leonardo DiCaprio’s other big movie of 2013, “The Great Gatsby,” the soundtrack to “The Wolf of Wall Street” draws mainly from previously released music. The only new songs are a grand cover of “Goldfinger” from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who appear in the movie as a wedding band, and a stomping rocker from 7Horse called “Meth Lab Zoso Sticker” that blends Black Keys rootsiness with indie-rock distortion.
The soundtrack’s strange mix of styles is actually charming — from Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” to Eartha Kitt’s “C’est Si Bon,” with excursions to Romeo Void’s punk and Malcolm McLaren’s island-tinged “Double Dutch.”
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday