Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino when referring to his music career, has always remained consistent with his release of surprising and unexpected albums. Although generally labeled as a writer (he got his start writing for 30 Rock) or actor (on Community and, tragically, Girls), it is Glover's musical stylings that set him apart more than any of his other talents. His new mixtape/EP, STN MTN / Kauai, proves that he's capable of even more than we thought.
Opening with the instantly catchy "Sober," Childish Gambino lures us in with his sultry vocals and resonant lyrics, asserting, "And now that it's over, I'll never be sober." "Pop Thieves (Make It Feel Good)" acts as some sort of bizarre song lovechild of Kevin Lyttle and Rihanna with its romantic, fanciful vibe. Plus, it features Jaden Smith. The third track, "Retro (Rough)" alternates between pure hip hop and semi-ballad with its lascivious confidence as Gambino croons, "We can get there, we can do it if we try."
"The Palisades" is one of the richest songs on the EP, complemented by the vocals of Christian Rich, an N.E.R.D. protege. Expressing a somewhat cynical/aloof sentiment toward relationships, Gambino sings, "If we could be together would that make you happy? And if it wouldn't tell your girlfriend to get at me/Love don't really happen." Following is "Poke," an appropriate song for an October release when considering the lament, "Those summer days never fade away, they just stay the same in my mind."
"Late Night in Kauai" also features Jaden Smith (clearly Gambino's new favorite). Evoking the beat poetry style, the song is nothing but bongo drums and bizarre reminiscences like, "I remember that first night you were wearing a Power Ranger t-shirt. So was I." The concluding track is also the best one. "3005 (Beach Picnic Version)" includes Minnie Mouse-pitch vocals that assure, "No matter what you say or what you do, I'll be right by your side till three thousand and five." It's the perfect way to end an EP that you didn't think could possibly get any more endearing.