(Hy)Lights: Childish Gambino – “Royalty” Mixtape

ORIGINAL DATE: July 13, 2012

Well, this is MAK2.0 aka the HybridMedia and I’m bringing something new to the table with this new secondary blogging project, alongside Anime Discovery (which it’s still ongoing) and it is called “HyLights”.

Now why did I call this blog, “HyLights”?

Besides the gimmicky thrown-in of my screen name that sounds like highlights, I looked into the latest (or past) stuff in movies (mostly on DVD, Blu-Ray, digital rather than the actual cinema), music, TV, and other miscellaneous stuff involving media of all kinds. Like Anime Discovery, I planned to do these blogs either once every two weeks or whenever I feel like it if I’m not too busy with something and the difference between those two is I don’t plan this stuff that I do on HyLights, but just doing something just for the cause of finding stuff in media that I might like.

And for the first entry of HyLights, I am looking at the latest mixtape from Childish Gambino – “Royalty”. As in my first review that’s basically music.

Now you may be asking, who is Childish Gambino?


Childish Gambino is the rapper persona of one Donald Glover, who most of you know him as Troy Barnes in the critically acclaimed, fan beloved but ratings-challenged NBC single-cam sitcom Community (I like the show, too, but be glad NBC gave them a fourth season. Other networks would just straight cancel it.) He is also a member of the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy and he is a former writer on the other NBC sitcom 30 Rock (from 2006-2009).

Now as for his music discography, the only studio album he released so far was Camp and 3 albums (Sick Boi, Poindexter, Cul-de-sac) released independently and those albums I will get to review in a later time. Now, I discover this mixtape from a Spill member here, known as The Gaming King, and I decided that I wonder if Donald Glover is good as a rapper as he is as a comedian and so I decide to delve right on in.

But here’s the thing, I have been trying to find hip-hop music (or some that is actually listenable) that stands out from the most of the mainstream that is either dance rap or the same but still irritating bragging rap and I was lucky to find current and underground rappers (Lupe Fiasco, MF Doom, Action Bronson, Madlib, Asheru, etc.) that are great on what they do but this is curiosity going on the mind.

Track Listing:

  1. “ROYALTY”
  2. “We Ain’t Them”
  3. “One Up” (featuring Steve G. Lover)
  4. “Black Faces” (ft. Nipsey Hussle)
  5. “Unnecessary” (ft. Schoolboy Q & Ab-Soul)
  6. “Shoulda Known”
  7. “R.I.P.” (ft. Bun B.)
  8. “American Royalty” (ft. The RZA & Hypnotic Brass Orchestra)
  9. “It May Be Glamour Life” (ft. Ghostface Killah)
  10. “Toxic” (ft. Danny Brown)
  11. “Silk Pillow” (ft. Beck)
  12. “They Don’t Like Me” (ft. Chance the Rapper)
  13. “Arrangement” (ft. Gonage)
  14. “Won’t Stop” (ft. Danielle Haim of HAIM)
  15. “Bronchitis”
  16. “Wonderful” (ft. Josh Osho)
  17. “Make It Go Right” (ft. Kilo Kish)
  18. “Real Estate” (ft. Alley Boy, Swank, & Tina Fey)

Since the first track is merely 9 seconds of what sounds like a little girl, the first guy being Blake Griffin saying, “It’s Royalty!!” I’m going to skip my say on that. 

 “American Royalty” may be the favorite track for me, not just for the fact that the RZA delivers an excellent verse that may seem indecipherable the first time you listen it but after a few times, it still sounds awesome and the Hypnotic Brass Orchestra help kicked up their electronic beat during the second half of the track and Gambino killed it with that verse he gave out.

The one thing I can say for “We Ain’t Them” is that if you are solely a Community fan, you may want to be warned before listening to it.  

“One Up” really sets up the album with a very standard production that’s decent but not mind-blowing.

“It May Be Glamour Life” may be the one song I wonder why did Gambino gave a verse on it. Yes, I like the song with Ghostface Killah’s contribution with its melodic and soft-like beat.

 “Silk Pillow” & “Bronchitis” are two of the strangest tracks on the album, mostly thanks to Beck, who appears in the former and produces both of the tracks and styles of both artists clash and collide naturally.

“R.I.P.” & “Toxic” are tracks that did sample some recognizable songs, for example, “R.I.P.” sampled “Nightcall” by Kavinsky (heard from the movie Drive) & “Toxic” is sampled by, well, the Britney Spears song by the same name. By comparison, “R.I.P” sounds less awkward and jointed while “Toxic” seems mostly lazy in production value and some of the forgettable verses of Danny Brown.

Speaking of awkward, “Real Estate” fits into the category of awkward and funny, especially at the end where Tina Fey (yes, that Tina Fey) does a silly yet convincing verse although it’s not the first time that Tina tries to rap, but it is the first time that it’s intentionally funny and good.

 “Shoulda Known” almost let me down when Gambino sounded a bit like Drake when he’s crooning but it manages to not sound dreary at some time.

Other standouts include “Wonderful”, “Arrangement”, “Won’t Stop”, & “Make It Go Right”, however, “They Don’t Like Me” & “Unnecessary” is definitely the weakest and forgettable tracks of the mix tape.


IN CLOSING WORDS, it’s a really awesome mix tape and the fact that I’m a Community fan and a hip hop fan, now I can see potential in Donald Glover, not only just as Troy Barnes or a funny comedian or even him as Childish Gambino but I can see him as a fully-fledged entertainer that every part of the media world needs. Some songs were either rated as very impressive, decent, meh or weak and therefore, the score for Royalty is a 9/10.

And that’s it. It’s just 9 out of 10.

And as for next time……well, I don’t know about that. It’s coming soon but for what?

And until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka HybridMedia, bringing the highlights in one blog.

ROYALTY – courtesy of Childish Gambino.

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