Unless you’re Radiohead in October of 2007, it’s nearly impossible to control how people hear your album for the first time. Donald Glover is trying really hard, though. He strongly suggests that you listen to his new album for the first time on the Internet, while reading a screenplay he wrote.
Although Glover is primarily known for his role on NBC’s Community, he also has a rap career sideline under the Childish Gambino moniker. (Opinion: This is perhaps the worst name of any rapper ever.) Glover is set to release his second non-mixtape album for sale on December 10th. Before this album is officially available, though, the rapper/performer is inviting fans to experience it online, embedded within the pages of a screenplay. Not for nothing is the song collection called Because the Internet.
The screenplay/album was preceded months ago by a short film called Clapping For The Wrong Reasons, a fractured series of misty vignettes about rich malaise in L.A. The tone of the short continues over into the screenplay, where Glover–playing a character known only as The Boy–seems fashionably depressed by excess. Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, though, you sort of have to admire the presentation.
Short, helpful video clips automatically play as you scroll along. These video segments mirror what’s happening in the script, though with the volume down to keep the focus on the music. It might be the future of album distribution, but the whole enterprise couldn’t possibly be any more reflective of the present. From the EDM elements to the Drake-isms, musically it’s very now, and one song even includes a Facebook-friendly GPOY chant (gratuitous pictures of yourself), which is endemic of the year of the selfie. Hell, the short snippets of video might as well be GIFs. Gentlemen, start your Tumblrs.