A 1.6 out of 10 rating? That’s what Pitchfork gave Childish Gambino‘s debut album Camp. For comparison, they gave Lil B’s Basedgodveli mixtape a 7.8. According to mathematics, this means Pitchfork believes Lil B’s Basedgodveli mixtape is 4.875 times better than Childish Gambino’s Camp.
It’s funny, because on “All The Shine,” a song off the album, Donald says, “But Pitchfork only likes rappers who crazy or hood, man, so, I guess we gon’ see.” Now we see.
After we read the review, P&P contributors Confusion, Constant Gardner, Monster, and Midas had a little discussion via emails. Hit the jump if you’re interested in reading our emails (Note: Unedited, so pardon the sloppiness). And definitely read to the end, because what started as a “fuck P4K” rant got pretty real…
Pitchfork gave Camp a 1.6. Seems extreme. They have some points, but it seems crazy to give it a 1.6. We maybe should react to this.
Pitchfork is a dick for this one. I think part of the reason they do this is because it kind of fits in with their image. Personally, I think Donald made a great record, but it’s a little immature, and P4K wants to look like some intellectual snobs that sometimes randomly like hood shit but mostly only fuck with intelligent music that is reflective of a superior taste. I feel like their whole appeal is based on sometimes throwing in wild curve balls like, “Oh, you thought we would like this? nope, we don’t like it. we FUCKING HATE IT.” Or like giving Kanye’s MBDTF a 10. That was crazy. They gave College Dropout an 8.2. Idk, i think their whole system is more based on how they want Pitchfork to be perceived.
Anyways, I still think they have some points. Gambino kinda borrows from mainstream rappers like Kanye, Wayne, and Drake but adds in his really unique personality, passion, and emotion. He definitely throws in some “real” shit, and he’s bringing up issues, especially with race, that haven’t really been touched before. It’s challenging what a rapper “should” be, and it’s refreshing to hear. At the same time, mixing that kinda stuff with cringeworthy punchlines sometimes makes it hard to take seriously.
I think that’s one of the main things about Camp that kinda bothers me. Even though he’s talking about some real shit, he’s doing it in this half joking, half swagged out, half passionate way (i guess those would be one-thirds) that makes it hard to take seriously in any of those ways. I think in stand-up comedy, these kinda half-true, half-funny things work well, but in music it’s a little weird. His Asian girl punchlines, and the way he frames the whole being black and not fitting in stuff is probably all really true, but it just feels weird the way he puts it on this album.
K didn’t mean to ramble like this, just wanted to throw everything out there.
Thats such bullshit, they’re such cunts. WTF.
When Camp & Take Care dropped I looked on P4k a coupla times to see if theyd review it, but nothing, and no coverage on him ever. No new music news kinda thing, and this is from a site who covers some proper random hiphop and mixtape releases (as part of trying to be “edgy” and “different”).
The emotional openness, vulnerability and “outsider” status is reminiscent of Kanye, but it’s not really the same. For me, Kanye’s outsiderness is framed (as with everything else) on a much larger, more grandiose scale than Donald’s. Kanye sees himself as a sort of leader, or representative of the black community and he is railing against the all around racism he sees in America. Donald not fitting in is on a more personal level, and is more to do with who he is, and was as a person not fitting in at school, college, in the rap world.
Anyway that is entirely irrelavant to what we’re talking about here, which is the fact that Camp is clearly not a 1.6 record. The fact that the review has come now, is, i’m sure becasue they waited to see what the reaction was, saw that Camp was getting a lot of love in comparison to Take Care, or at least just being put on the same level, and they’ve decided to rinse the shit out of it in their review. Its so petty and Childish, I just cannot believe any person could genuinely feel that way about this album! So it must be a decided upon angle.
Also whats up with the first line “If you buy only one hip-hop album this year, I’m guessing it’ll be Camp”? Is that just an immediate stating of their superiority over all the readers who think it’s a good album? Plus thats bullshit cos WTT would be the one album anyone would buy, so that pisses me off. Also that shot at 808s and heartbreak (Heartbeat” could have been the 10th-funniest song on 808s & Heartbreak– ) is pointless and childish.
Also, Con, I dont feel quite the same way as you in terms of him undercutting his serious points with bragadaccio or whatever. Yeah sure he might say something deep and personal and then ten seconds later be talking about Asian girls, but that doesnt take away the passion or truth of whats gone before. In Pitchfork’s review of MBDTF they fawn over the conflicts of emotions and the way Kanye plays off the arrogant against the self loathing, and with Drake they point out the contradictions in his views on fame/wealth/self worth as a positive.
Also, I mean not saying that Camp’s a great album, or better than Drake’s for example, BUT THEY GAVED LIL B’s BASEDGODVELI A 7.8. HELLO HELLO. WTF. He deserves more than a 1.6 jsut on his technical ability. The reviewer uses the very worst examples of Gambino’s punchlines (the human centipede reference is obvious and a bit grating for me) but doent mention some of the intricate double meaning punchlines that he comes up with.
Double also, they quote the “crazy or hood” rappers line, and i think they’ve confirmed that. They like crazy “out there” stuff like Kanye and Lil B (who they can apply their superior intellect too) and hood like Gibbs or whatever.
Anyways i want to write an angry letter to someone haha and stab Ian Cohen in the eyes with a pen.
LOLOL …I may just put together a post of “Emails Between P&P Contributors About Pitchfork’s Review Of Childish Gambino’s ‘Camp'” That might be good, and easier than putting together a structured post. (Note: Yeah, sometimes I go “LOLOL.” I don’t know when this started, and it’s embarrassing, but it happens.)
A 1.6 is basically the same thing as a “fuck you, we think your music sucks”. But since you can’t just write a one sentence review, P4K went on to over analyze and suck all the fun out of what Camp is. Not liking an album because it’s poorly put together or strictly sounds bad makes sense to me. Bashing it because it’s not as good as other albums you like and decided to stack it up against is lazy and weak. That’s why I’ve started to loathe comparison pieces. The quality of an album should be assessed on its own individual merits. “Chris Brown’s new album gets a -3.9 from Pitchfork because it pretty much sucks when we paired it up against Thriller.” Get the fuck out of here Pitchfork. Camp is fun and a damn solid first official effort from a young talent. If Ian Cohen dislikes Donald Glover so much he should handle it like a man and challenge him to a back alley fist fight, not rag on him in some shitty review.
In other news El Camino is really fucking good.
Yeah, I’m with Monster in that this does feel like it’s a review written out of a personal dislike of Donald Glover. To be honest, I expected not great reviews for Camp from places like Pitchfork, but not for the reasons they list, nor with the vitriol this guy is writing with. You don’t rip on an artist like he did or give someone a rating as insulting as 1.6 without some thought to the editorial stance you’re taking and it does seem like their typical pretentious “we’re cooler than you are” posturing for, in this case, some pretty terrible reasons.
I’d be way way less pissed reading this review if he’d focused on shit like the fact that Childish is at times, a not great rapper. His flows get clumsy and his punchlines (like the human centipede one) are over the top. I think he’s got a long way to go before he’s a really good rapper. I also think how derivative CG is of Kanye is also a really valid point, as is the fact that CG sometimes (Note: Midas didn’t finish this sentence. He has bad ADD. He does this sometimes.)
But the stuff most of Cohen’s review focuses on is a lot of the reasons I’ve stayed away from writing a lot about Childish myself, and that’s his whole “black nerd” thing. I’m black, went to an entirely white high school, and am definitely the only black person in the front row of The National shows. I can’t objectively talk about how much I like Childish Gambino because, a lot of the time, it feels like he’s rapping about me. I love the music a lot because of that. Hip-Hop is unique to me because it is able to literally pinpoint an experience that I’ve gone through and then you hear it and can think – I’m not on my own on that one.
I had a poetry professor tell me once that it’s much harder to write about emotionally raw topics because it relies on an immediate connection with the audience. She said it was always better to understate big emotions, and make the reader come to you. CG rarely tones his shit down, which I think means that he does rely on this implied connection with the audience – I feel it and I like the music, but I imagine if you don’t, you probably don’t see the appeal and kind of hate the music.
I’m definitely taking this review too much to heart and letting it feel personally insulting. But he counters the “black kid at a Sufjan concert” line, which I loved, with the fact that Jay fucking Z was at a Grizzly Bear show in 2009. In what world do I relate to Jay-Z? He’s a superstar who just released an album about knocking down race barriers through amassing enormous personal wealth. It’s not the same. Sampling indie songs? Not the same as being 14 and slowly figuring out that you don’t have to act like 50 Cent to be black. The music may sound whiny and not hit everyone the same way it hit me, but it’s often some very pointed, intelligent remarks on race and identity, and that is worth more than a 1.6.
I’ve written way way way too much about this shit. I like criticism, and am generally fine with reviews I disagree with, but this one really got under my skin.
Also, just to clarify I don’t even love the album as a whole. It’s good not great. I just (like you guys) disagree with the rating and way the record was approached.