Because the Internet
|Because the Internet|
Lenticular album cover
|Studio album by Childish Gambino|
|Released||December 10, 2013|
|Studio||The Temple, Los Angeles|
|Childish Gambino chronology|
|Singles from Because the Internet|
Because the Internet is the second studio album by American hip hop recording artist Donald Glover, under the stage name Childish Gambino. The album was released on December 10, 2013, by Glassnote Records and Island Records, and then four days later in North America by Glassnote and Universal. The recording process began in 2012 and ended in October 2013. Recording primarily took place at a mansion owned by basketball player Chris Bosh, which Gambino rented.
Because the Internet features guest appearances from Chance the Rapper, Jhené Aiko and Azealia Banks, with production primarily handled by Gambino himself, Stefan Ponce, and Ludwig Göransson, among others. The album was supported by the singles "3005", "Crawl", "Sweatpants" and "Telegraph Ave." Gambino also released a short film titled Clapping for the Wrong Reasons and a 72-page screenplay to go along with the album in promotion of it.
Because the Internet received generally positive reviews from critics. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. It also performed well commercially, debuting at number seven on the Billboard 200 and number 12 on Billboard's Canadian Albums Chart. The album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in February 2016. As of November 2016, it has sold 992,000 album-equivalent units in the United States.
In July 2013, Gambino signed on to create a music-themed show for FX titled Atlanta, a series which premiered on September 6, 2016, and which he stars in, writes, and executive produces. Consequently, he decided to reduce his work for NBC, and only appeared in five episodes of Community's 13-episode fifth season. His role was reduced in order to work more on his music career.
On October 4, 2013, Gambino announced on Twitter that his second studio album was completed. He further revealed details at Homecoming Week at Penn State on October 7, stating that "I got a new album coming out soon, so this is the last time we're gonna play a lot of this shit." The same day, he premiered a new song titled "Yaphet Kotto".
On October 8, 2013, Gambino released a teaser video for the album, which he announced as being titled Because the Internet and that it would be released in December 2013. Gambino told MTV that singer Beck gave him the idea for the album title. He explained the title, saying: "Because the internet I'm here, because of the internet we're all here. It's the language of earth. Everyone keeps saying by this or that year, Mandarin or Spanish will be the most dominant language, but the internet is already a language we are all connected to; even my dad can understand the meme format. But the thing is, there are no rules, which is also the awesome thing."
After the release date announcement, Gambino stated he was upset since Glassnote Records wanted to push back its release to 2014, which he said was because "it's not a holiday record and I'm not a big artist". He responded to this, saying: "If it wasn't gonna be released then, I was gonna release it myself. What's the point of waiting? I feel like that's the only time people would be able to listen to it. December is the perfect time. Albums made a really big impact on me when I was alone and everything was quiet, and I know that's when students go home, that's when everything is closed, so it's a good time to just listen to something and be yourself." On October 21, he announced a release date of December 10, 2013, for the album.
The cover is an animated .GIF of Gambino staring at the viewer, which quickly fuzzes out after a few seconds (with strong brush-like strokes blurring his features to the point where he is unrecognizable) as if it had jumped at the viewer, in a process similar to zooming in. The .GIF format is a reference to the Internet, which made it popular and frequent. The physical version of the album functions with lenticular printing to mimic the animation effect.
Recording and production
On November 4, 2012, producer Ludwig Göransson said in an interview, he and Gambino were in his studio coming up with new ideas for Gambino's next album. Göransson said it was to be a bigger album than his debut, Camp, with more people involved. Over the following months, Gambino disappeared from social media, remaining reclusive while recording material for the album. The album was primarily recorded in Miami Heat player Chris Bosh's mansion in Los Angeles, which Gambino dubbed "The Temple". There, he kept strict rules, which included "no tweeting or instagramming", "no shoes", and "work begins at 10 am". In October 2013, he revealed that he had collaborated with Kid Cudi on a song, but the song would not be featured on the album. In October 2013, during a Toronto listening session, Gambino revealed Jhené Aiko as one of the album's guest appearances. He also collaborated with American rappers Chance the Rapper and Azealia Banks on the album.
On January 11, 2012, Gambino announced he would be releasing a new mixtape soon. The mixtape Royalty was released on July 4, 2012, to positive critical reception. The mixtape featured guest appearances by Nipsey Hussle, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Danny Brown, Tina Fey, Chance the Rapper, Beck, Ghostface Killah and RZA, among others.
On July 23, 2013, Gambino released a promotional single named "Centipede". The song opens with Gambino singing a cappella before "giving way to a spacey beat built around a chunky piano riff" and Gambino's confident rap delivery. The outro of "Centipede" samples a part from an online mini-documentary about and featuring Charles Hamilton, titled "Behind the Lava Lamp." On August 15, 2013, Gambino released a short film titled Clapping for the Wrong Reasons. In the film Gambino previews new music and it features cameo appearances by producer Flying Lotus, actor Danielle Fishel, porn star Abella Anderson, and fellow rappers Trinidad James and Chance the Rapper.
On October 25, 2013, in an interview with Power 105, Gambino stated he wanted to have a "dope roll out" for the album, which he said would also include a film. Later that week, he told XXL that the album would also come with a screenplay. On December 6, 2013, Gambino released a 72-page screenplay designed to sync up with the album. It was revealed on the website becausetheinter.net. "The screenplay, which is light on dialogue and involves stage directions that are written out Internet-speak and emojis. Several of the scenes are accompanied by short, silent clips of the film, and songs from the album are included to be played as the story unfolds. The central character, 'The Boy,' lives in a mansion and spends his days tweeting at celebrities and posting videos to WorldStarHipHop." His dad is played by rapper Rick Ross and one of his friends is played by Chance the Rapper. Everywhere The Boy goes, he sees the words "Roscoe's Wetsuit." Eventually, he's forced to take up selling drugs to make ends meet. Gambino prefaces the screenplay with a notice indicating that Clapping for the Wrong Reasons is considered a prelude, intending it to be viewed before reading the screenplay.
On January 7, 2014, Gambino used a video chat with Abella Anderson to announce The Deep Web tour. The tour featured 22 concerts and ran from February 27, through May 3, 2014.
On October 21, 2013, Gambino released "3005", the album's first official single. The following day it was released for digital download on iTunes. The introspective song was produced by Gambino himself, along with Stefan Ponce and Ludwig Göransson. On November 15, 2013, the song's lyric video was premiered on Vevo. The music video was released on December 6, 2013.
On November 25, 2013, "Sweatpants" which features ad-libs from rapper Problem was leaked online, which Gambino responded unfavorably to. Shortly after, it was made available to those who pre-order the album on iTunes, as the album's first promotional single.
The music video for "Sweatpants" was released on April 14, 2014, which concludes with a dream sequence for "Urn". "Sweatpants" would later be serviced to urban contemporary radio in the UK as the album's third official single on June 9, 2014.
|The A.V. Club||B−|
|Los Angeles Times|||
Because the Internet received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 64, based on 26 reviews. Writing for The Boston Globe, Franklin Soults said, "Love Donald Glover or hate him, this writer/actor/comedian/rapper unquestionably ranks among America's most accomplished performers. [...] The production is as rich as the raps, spanning pop, underground R&B, club music, and psychedelic experimentation. The project is further heightened by Glover's knowing irony, his gift for hooks, and his visionary theme. Without making it a burdensome concept to explain and belabor, the Internet figures prominently throughout the disc in ways empowering and emasculating." Killian Fox, writing for The Observer, said, "Glover reflects on some unsettling phenomena of our internet-addled age, such as the 3D printing of guns – and his restless delivery is matched by jerky, off-kilter production. The results are intriguing, occasionally frustrating, rarely boring." Jabbari Weekes of Exclaim! said, "Because the Internet is a vast improvement over his debut effort, showcasing an artist who has confidently found a way to coalesce his love for music and films into one hybrid effort." Christian Lee of HipHopDX said, "He raps because, well, he can. Most of all, in his ambitious second album Because The Internet, he raps as if to pass the time. Anxious introverts may recognize what Childish Gambino does here, repeatedly: flit around, try to be sociable, but then flee. Childish Gambino still manages to mostly hold our attention, though, because he concerns himself instead with his own terms." David Jeffries of AllMusic said, "Connecting with the album is nearly impossible, understanding it is difficult, and often enough, its inflated ego is irksome, but Because the Internet is too free and fascinating to be dragged down by these complaints, so if a Yeezus with more flash and fun is what's required, Gambino's got the good stuff."
Perry Kostidakis of the FSView & Florida Flambeau wrote, "From a purely musical standpoint, Because the Internet finds itself in contention for best rap album of 2013. Produced almost solely by Gambino (with help from Community composer Ludwig Goransson), it seems as if BTI is the first rap album this year that is completely confident in what it is." Lizzie Plaugic of CMJ stated in a mixed review, "Because The Internet is not easily dismissible, because it's so self-awarely annoying. It trips over its own feet hoping the cool kids will roll their eyes at it, because behind those eye rolls is a jealousy that Gambino can fall with such nonchalance. Even though Because The Internet is kind of strange and kind of a bummer, it does show Glover's range as a musician." Craig Jenkins of Pitchfork stated, "With Gambino's wordplay ping-ponging from caustic wit to message board snark, the enduring strength of the album is its production. Gambino and Göransson handle the bulk of it here alongside usual suspect Stefan Ponce and alley oops from twin act Christian Rich and Flying Lotus associate Thundercat. Because the Internet's production team not only ensures the sounds are pretty, spacey, and jarring in all the right places, but they also effortlessly nail the album's Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz synchronicity gambit."
Dom Sinacola of Slant Magazine said, "More than that, it furthers the general message of the whole album, which is that for all his posturing and charm, Glover may not have it in him to participate in the kind of bacchanalia required of his position as a young, burgeoning, multi-talented rap star. Halfway between throwaway wordplay and trenchant comment about fame, the lyric says a lot about where Glover's head is at: As a former sketch comedian, writer on 30 Rock, and star of the sitcom Community, he leans on his wit as his most formidable weapon." Philip Cosores of Consequence of Sound stated, "Yes, the dedication that Glover has seemingly displayed in the project is admirable. But he just doesn't seem to get music on this album. Maybe it's because of his taste, or because he is trying too hard to stand out, or because of his hubris, or because he has lost touch with reality, or maybe it is because of the internet." Phillip Mlynar of Spin said, "The only reaction that Because the Internet elicits is the uncontrollable urge to skip to the next song, in hopes that things couldn't possibly get any sloppier. But they do, beginning with the cod-wailing that blights "Crawl" and volleying with the psychedelic muzak of "The Worst Guys" (co-starring Chance the Rapper) and "Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)," which sounds like Glover has inadvertently locked himself in his practice space and is attempting to muster up a loud enough mess so that some kindly passerby will hear his cries for help. As the album collapses into itself with the closing cut, "Life: The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer)," we're resigned to existence as a gloopy mess of random thoughts. "Where's the line between Donny G and Gambino?" the rapper muses, but it's unclear whether this is meant as a genuine identity crisis or an all-knowing middle finger to critics. Maybe the entire album is a meme itself, a grand existential joke critiquing the all-conquering rise of Internet culture by parodying its overwhelming randomness. Whatever it is, though, it's a bad rap record."
It was named the tenth best album of 2013 by Complex. They commented saying, "Because The Internet is unlike any other rap album this year. Musically, it's as ambitious as something Kanye might do. [...] It only leaked last week, but it's some of the most engaging, rewarding music we've heard all year." XXL ranked it at number 15 on their list of best albums of 2013. They elaborated saying, "One of the most creative albums of the year, actor/rapper Childish Gambino meshes both his talents together for a very innovate and impressive album. He ditches the goofy-comedic rap lyrics with introspective bars that tell a story about a boy who is trying to find himself in life. [...] The music itself is really polished and well-produced, showcasing his growth lyrically and musically as he frequently sings on records."
The album debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 96,000 copies in the United States. This would be an 84% increase in first week sales in his home country, compared to his debut album Camp. In its second week the album dropped to number 25, selling 28,000 more copies. In its third week, the album sold 33,000 more copies in the United States. In its fourth week, the album sold 16,000 more copies in the United States. Due to Record Store Day, the week ending April 20, 2014, the album peaked at number one on the Billboard Top Vinyl LPs chart, selling 3,000 vinyl copies. On February 18, 2016, Because the Internet was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). As of November 2016, the album has sold 992,000 album-equivalent units in the United States, with pure album sales of 525,000, and on-demand audio and video streams that totaled 1.1 billion.
|1.||"The Library (Intro)"||Donald Glover||Glover||0:04|
|5.||"I. The Worst Guys" (featuring Chance the Rapper)||
|7.||"III. Telegraph Ave. ("Oakland" by Lloyd)"||
|10.||"Playing Around Before the Party Starts"||
|11.||"I. The Party"||
|12.||"II. No Exit"||
|13.||"Death by Numbers"||Glover||Glover||0:43|
|14.||"I. Flight of the Navigator"||
|15.||"II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)"||
|17.||"I. Pink Toes" (featuring Jhené Aiko)||
|18.||"II. Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night)" (featuring Azealia Banks)||
|19.||"III. Life: The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer)"||
- ^[a] signifies an additional producer
- "I. Crawl" features additional vocals from Kai and background vocals from Mystikal
- "II. Worldstar" features additional vocals from Steve G. Lover and background vocals from Lover and Swank
- "III. Telegraph Ave. ("Oakland by Lloyd")" features additional vocals by Yesi Ortiz and Lloyd
- "IV. Sweatpants" features additional vocals from Problem
- "II. No Exit" features additional vocals from Miguel
- "II. Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)" features background vocals from Kilo Kish
- "I. Pink Toes" features background vocals from Thundercat
- Jhené Aiko – featured artist
- Erik Arvinder – strings
- Chris Athens – mastering
- Azealia Banks – featured artist
- Chance the Rapper – featured artist
- Childish Gambino – creative director, executive producer, producer, primary artist
- Andrew Dawson – mixing
- Autumn de Wilde – photography
- Doc Allison – cello
- Jens Filipsson – alto sax
- Ludwig Göransson – guitar, producer
- Chris Hartz – Drums
- Rochelle Jordan – background vocals
- Kilo Kish – vocals
- Pop Levi – producer
- Steve G. Lover – vocals
- Riley Mackin – engineer
- Jason Martin – vocals
- Miguel – vocals
- Mystikal – background vocals
- Edvin Nahlin – fender rhodes
- Yesi Ortiz – vocals
- Stefan Ponce – drum programming, producer
- Christian Rich – producer
- Ruben Rivera – engineer
- Brian Roettinger – art direction, creative director
- Sam Spiegel – additional production
- Swank – Background vocals
- S-X – drum programming
- Thundercat – bass, producer, background vocals
- Fam Udeorji – A&R, creative director, executive producer
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Australia||December 6, 2013|
|Canada||December 10, 2013|
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