Kauai – Who knew rap could be so good?

Trent Cimino, Guest Writer

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I know, I know. “Kauai” by Childish Gambino has been out for what, 5 months now? The album, or more accurately EP, was brought to my attention by a friend during school and I was blown away. I personally am not a fan of rap, but this EP shouldn’t be called rap because it’s actually good. “Kauai” is better characterized as R&B, not rap. Glover shows how his music can be paired with a good beat to appeal to a wider audience. On the seven song collection each song has a refreshing synth, so that even if the lyrics become dry, you continue listening. “Kauai” is like a Frappuccino, if Gambino’s other work is straight black coffee.

  1. Sober – The first track starts with a catchy hook that instantly shatters any belief that this is a regular rap mixtape. There, in fact, aren’t any rap verses in the entire song. Sober, with its light tempo and dreamy synth riffs, is suitable if you’ve enjoyed groups like MGMT or Lana Del Rey.
  2. Pop Thieves (Make It Feel Good) –   This song can be described as “Sober” with different lyrics. Although this song probably has the best chorus, it certainly has a definitive lack of verse lines. It’s a rinse and repeat of the same line with the same synth and drum beat till 4:30. At 3:30 the worst thing in rap music happens. Donald Glover feels the need to stop the music and literally just start telling us a story. Is there a point to this story? Nope. Does it correlate with the song? Maybe but we don’t know. This song is something you can blast in your car going down the road all the way until he starts speaking. It’s irrelevant and nearly ruins the song.
  3. Retro [ROUGH] – This is the first song with rap in it, and it works flawlessly. The subtle three note beat is simple enough that it doesn’t have to change when he travels between chorus and verse. This in my opinion is Gambino at his best. The song has the same structure as “3005,” his highest hit. Best song on the album? Probably.
  4. The Palisades (ft. Christian Rich) – The Palisades, as the name suggests, tells a story about Gambino having a wall between him and true love. This is a pretty typical topic for music, but he explains it as if a high-schooler had. It’s entertaining in his short rap verse. Clearly the best beat, this song would be a contender if you were making a Valentine’s Day rap mix.
  5. Poke (ft. Steve Steve G. Lover III) – This song really doesn’t fit. The hook and chorus are high and slightly annoying. The rap verse is probably the only hardcore rap in the EP, and it doesn’t work with the chorus. The song feels like you’re in a faulty Toyota, suddenly accelerating without warning and when you want it to slow down it comes to a screeching hault. This is a song that’s bad but doesn’t know it’s bad. Like that annoying kid who thinks something is really cool but no one else does.
  6. Late Night in Kauai (ft. Jaden Smith) – So you remember how at the end of the second track Gambino just starts talking? Well if you like that with Jaden Smith mixed in (yes,
    The Jaden Smith) then you got 4:50 of it right here.
  7. 3005 (Beach Picnic Version) – It’s not better than the original “3005” so erase any hope for that. This song is, however, better to play when working on a paper or having a party. The ease of the beat makes this really good music for dancing. It is a 10/10 would-have-this-song-on if I were throwing a party of any size or just relaxing with friends.

This EP is in my opinion a step up from Gambino’s previous work “Camp” and “Because The Internet”. Kauai (just Kauai not the mixtape portion) would be comparable to if Passion Pit and Kendrick Lamar had a music baby. This Extended Play deserves a 8/10. Not perfect and not too close to perfection either. It is an experiment on what Childish Gambino is capable of, although he definitely needs polishing in the future.

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