Because the Internet (Glassnote)
ToBy Gets Childish: L.A. indie rapper ToBy told us about his love for a Childish Gambino favorite.
ToBy: My favorite album of all time has to be Because the Internet by Childish Gambino. It was the first time I saw such realized creative ambition and story telling of that caliber. I had been a Donald stan since ’08, following the Derrick Comedy sketches, his cameos on 30 Rock and tuning in every week for the new episode of Community, so obviously I kept up with his Gambino project very closely.
I binged all of his back catalogue material, the I Am Just A Rapper tapes, the mixes under his alias mc dj (his Illin Nois Sufjan Stevens fliptape got me through a rough breakup) and bumped CAMP routinely when it dropped. More than his music or talent, his success drove me more than anything. He represented an idea that nerdy black kids with alternative interests could be themselves and win in the long run. I really admired that authenticity and it inspired much of my early writing.
When the rollout for BTI started I was deep in the forums speculating along with everyone else what the feel of this next project was going to be based on the short film Clapping For The Wrong Reasons (featuring my silver screen crush Abella Anders—I mean uh Danielle Fishel). I don’t think I would have guessed it correctly in a million years. The first time I popped in the CD (they used to sell music on CD’s back in the day) I was blown away.
The first track “Crawl” was all futurism and bombast and…effort. There was a concerted effort, palpable in every bar and every measure. The pauses for moments, the singing, the introspection, the gravitasse, it immediately felt like more than just an album but also…less? It felt supplementary to a different body of work, as if it was composed with the purpose of enhancing or contextualizing something else. Then, I found out about the screenplay. That was what cemented this album as my favorite, knocking Sam’s Town by the Killers out of its long held top spot.
The idea to do something so niche and specific as drop an accompanying movie script (a good one too)! That synced with the sequencing of his album was some art student shit that I had never seen. The effort. I knew then that if I was going to pursue this music of my own accord, I could never settle or try any less than he did with that endeavor. It foreshadowed and PROVED his ability to write and perform in his series Atlanta and broke whatever glass ceiling critics held above him for years. He untethered himself from convention and category and truly became a representative of ever changing art and creativity, so that feat alone makes Because the Internet a seminal and life-changing work for me.
Now if only he could have beaten my best friend Wilkye in a rap battle after calling him on stage when he performed in Miami in 2013. So close, Gambino, so close.
ToBy Gets Childish: ToBy’s album L’Esprit is out now.