At the beginning of 2012, Kanye West published a series of tweets outlining his vision for his design company DONDA. He aspired to change the world with design and he continues to push things forward with the set design on his current Yeezus tour. But there’s someone else, someone influenced by Kanye, who has spent the tail-end of 2013 taking his own path and innovating. And that someone is 30-year-old Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino.
This is what I was talking about when I said I didn’t have time to give the appropriate amount of praise for Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet album rollout the other day. Now I do. And it’s all at the link above. Enjoy.
Reallyyy diggin’ this Aaliyah vibe Tinashe’s going for here. And if not Aaliyah, then just the way ’90s and even early 2000s R&B used to be when every artist’s video included some kind of choreographed dance routine even if they possessed zero dance skills. Ya’ll know exactly who and what I’m talking about. But, yeah, everything about Tinashe and her new Black Water mixtape is obsession.
"The Worst Guys" - Childish Gambino ft. Chance the Rapper
Edit: If this video gets taken down, here’s an equally cool new Childish video for “3005.”
This deserves a much longer post, but I’m strapped for time. So all I’ll say is if you haven’t been paying attention to Childish Gambino’s marketing of his new album Because the Internet, you’re missing out on something special. We’re so used to the Kanye’s of the world being the ones with elaborate album rollouts because of their money and resources, but Childish is proving that the little guys can compete too. And his is turning out to be a lot more thoughtful, something the fans can truly cherish and invest time into experiencing. I also haven’t seen an album engage fans in such a way that it motivates them to purchase the physical copy while still listening to the leak, read a 72-page document, attend art exhibits, and also come together as a community to decipher it all.
For example, in order to watch the video above, you’ll need a password. It’s: 12.10.13SIXTY. How do I know that? Well, for starters, I’ve been following the album rollout fairly closely (partly for work, mainly for pleasure) and I do a lot of Reddit lurking. Childish included that code at the top of the screenplay he wrote to accompany the album which he released last night.
That screenplay, by the way, innovates the entire genre of screenwriting. As a film nerd, I’ve read hundreds of screenplays and own several, and I’ve never seen a screenplay that embeds audio and video with instructions to play the audio along with the videos as you read on. The audio are songs from Because the Internet and the script is the album’s cinematic representation. Genius.
2013, you crazy son of a bitch. It’s been one weird year in music. Not just for the music itself—which is an orgy of genres, sounds, and styles—but for the business behind the music and the hyperbolic, illogical criticism it incites. Album-leaking is the norm, labels are scrambling to make money like they used to, and as we publish this list, a teenager from New Zealand is on the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Oh, and people are calling her racist.
Today Pigeons & Planes published our “Best Albums of 2013” list and what a doozy narrowing the selection down to just 30 albums turned out to be. Credit for that goes to this impeccable year in music, one which many have likened to 1993 for hip-hop but far greater because 2013 also contained an unending diverse mix of quality pop, country, R&B, and electronic releases—and other genres, I’m sure. I mean, there’s less than a month left and just yesterday I heard yet another album that could’ve easily been a contender for our list (Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet).
And I had the great pleasure of sharing a few words on three albums that I’ve fawned over this year: Lorde’s Pure Heroine, M.I.A.’s Matangi, and Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name. So give it a read, share it with your friends, and let us know in the comment section if we got it right or left off something great! We’ve already seen so many passionate responses, and welcome more.
And to the regular P&P readers who consistently show love to the site, thank you so much for all your support this year. Big things are coming in 2014. Just wait on it.
Until a press release from their people popped up in my inbox today, I’d never heard of these two dudes out of Tallahassee. And now I’m hooked on their Outkast-favoring sound and obsessed with this video. For more of my thoughts on After The Smoke, go here. They’ll be huge someday, I know it.
Few things make me smile more than the artistic ingenious of Pharrell Williams. It’s already been quite the month for music video innovation. First, we had live music videos from Arcade Fire, M.I.A., and more directed by Spike Jonze that were filmed/aired during their performances on the YouTube Music Awards. Then, earlier this week Bob Dylan gifted us with the most extraordinary music video I’ve ever seen for his decades-old song “Like a Rolling Stone.” It’s an interactive juggernaut that allows the viewer to flip between 16 different channels and simulate the experience of watching television with each channel displaying video from actual TV shows like The Price is Right and Pawn Stars with the stars of each show lip-syncing the song’s lyrics. Danny Brown’s also inexplicably in there too.
Today, we get another unexpected surprise from Pharrell in the form of his video for “Happy,” a song off the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. He has billed the video as the world’s first 24-hour music video, and indeed that’s what it is. If you ever have the time to watch, Pharrell has created 24 hours of visuals filmed around the world with various cameos from celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Odd Future all set to “Happy.” According to Lana Del Rey director Woodkid, he served as the project’s creative director but the actual footage was directed by We Are From LA. I’ve only seen about 20 minutes of the video, and it’s beautifully shot. You can either watch the whole thing here or watch it in 4-hour pieces here. A round of applause for artists still taking risks with their work.
I haven’t made a year-end best of list since high school, but if I still did this song would absolutely be on it. So would Bankrupt! A lot of people didn’t respond to this album the way they did to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and that’s fine. You’re not obligated to love or even like every album a band releases, but something about this one just connected with me. And I love how Sofia Coppola continues her cinematic obsession with teenage female romanticism in the video’s concept. Makes me wonder why she doesn’t play around with short films more often.
UPDATE: Video’s been removed, so watch it here instead.