Childish Gambino – ‘The Younger I Get’
Wow internet, thanks for making the video of Donald and I freestyling go viral! As I said in the last post, hello there, I’m Chaz Kangas, you might remember me as the second verse on Childish Gambino’s “My Hoodie” from Sick Boi. Next week album Camp drops, but you can already stream the album now as well as download MY FREE album featuring Mac Lethal, Stones Throw’s Homeboy Sandman, Alaska of Hangar 18 and J57 of the Brown Bag All Stars.
We left off last time with Donald giving me a copy of The Younger I Get, an album he had just finished. He handed it out to everyone he knew who was into hip-hop at the time in an oddly thick white slim CD-R case with a paper cover that had a picture of him recording in his dorm room printed on it. Honestly, if there’s one thing that’s gone grossly underreported about Donald, it’s how hard he grinded. People forget, he at no point was an overnight success. Not only was he attending the most sought-after University in the country, but he was an RA for FRESHMEN in NEW YORK CITY on one of the SPECIALTY THEMED FLOORS. We all know how insane college freshmen get, but now imagine putting all of the “artists” of that group in one building, and two nights a week you’re in charge of all of them. Despite that, he managed to heavily promote himself and really perfect his craft with both Hammerkatz at UCB and Derrick Comedy, eventually winding up writing for a network show fresh out of college. Hard work, and insanity in general, pays off.
As you can imagine, The Younger I Get was born out of that insanity. Now, according to Tumblr, I might be the only person on the face of the Earth who has it. It does surprise me in this internet age that it hasn’t surfaced anywhere, but perhaps that’s more of a testament to how those of us who have it respect Donald’s wishes and haven’t leaked it. I know I get asked for it, even offered some pretty ridiculous sums of money for it, on a regular basis. But still, as Donald’s gone to great lengths to distance himself from it, my response has always been this. So, with so much misinformation about the album in circulation, I thought I’d make this post and offer you the next best thing with the most detailed breakdown of it ever assembled.
First off, the album was record between 2004-2005, NOT 2002. I’m pretty sure the inaccurate date stems from a typo in the one early 2009 interview where he was asked about it, and with nobody to correct it has subsequently been repeated to death. With references to 50 Cent, “The O.C.” and “Rap Snitch Knishes,” there is literally no possible way this could have been recorded two years prior. Speaking of Doom, Donald’s always worn his love for his favorite rappers on his sleeve and it shows as The Younger I Get is much more influenced by Madlib and the like than his later work, but we’ll get into what influenced Sick Boi later. There’s also the chipmunk-soul sample sound that makes up about half of the production, with the other half having the electronic bounce of jovial Nintendo games. Given where both Hip-Hop and Donald was at the time**, it’s pretty clear he produced it himself.
Another oft-repeated critique of The Younger I Get is that it’s an overly-vulnerable Drake-lite. While there are the more introspective tracks, it’s not a self-indulgent emo crybaby fest at all. Such heavier moments, like “Black Kid” (racism faced at school at an early age), “A Runaway” (a highly personal confessional track) and “My Baby” (romantic rejection) do get *very* specific to the point where he names names of things that affected him, so I can see why he wouldn’t want the album in circulation. Otherwise, there’s a lot of fun on here. Opener “Da Man” has his charisma on full display with braggadocious wordplay I’d put on par with the best of his work. “Tengo,” with DC Pierson, is a great first collaboration between the two. There’s also a back-and-forth battle track between him and his penis (“2 Brains”) an instrumental (“Me and Austen”) and a soulful track of just him singing (“Home”). It’s clear listening to it that the same guy who made it also made Camp, and it’s cool to hear him still have that touch of the same hometown as this man, but given how much his production levels grew even three years later, the distance is understandable. I will say, if Donald ever does agree to let ONE song leak from the project, urge him for “Da Man” or “Summer is Here.” Donald and I kept trying to get together to record that fall back in NYC, but with college and both of our careers going in very different directions, we wound up not being able to finally do a song together until the writer’s strike wound up giving us a chance to sit down and discuss me doing something for his then forthcoming album Sick Boi…
To Be Continued with…THE MAKING OF “MY HOODIE!”
So until next time…let’s agree to agree.
*You could call it “how hard he hustles,” but I’ve never been a fan of that word as I feel when working hard with something you believe in, you aren’t hustling someone else out of something.
**One of Donald’s single’s cover arts (can’t remember which one, please correct me) I’m 95% certain is a photo from inside of his dorm this year. The one with the video game on the TV with the bottle of lotion next to it and the desk with the two shelves.