Student Review of Childish Gambino’s debut album “Camp”

Listen to the full album here.

Odds are you’ve heard of Donald Glover: Writer for 30 Rock, comedian, and Troy Barnes on Community. I can say with certainty that you probably haven’t heard about his rap career: Childish Gambino. Donald started making music in college and that is when it all started. He made a few mixtapes but it all came full circle when he made Culdesac, his first full album by the new Donald Glover, the one who isn’t afraid to tell the real truth about his life. Donald released EP in the spring which featured Freaks and Geeks, a song that has become popular among college kids.

Now, Donald has signed with a label, he has a new album coming out November 15th, and you will be able to buy this album on iTunes, CD, and even vinyl. I feel very privileged to have known about Gambino before Camp. Donald has shaped the way I view life. He taught me to not care what people think about me. He taught me to be myself. Donald is one of the best rappers out there. You may have not heard of Gambino before but, after November 15th, you will. As Gambino once said  “To all my fans who’s saying Donald Glover about to blow, Just give me six months so you can say I told you so.” With his recent appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and now his nearly completely sold out national tour, it seems like die hard Donald Glover fans can still Trust In Gambino.

Below is a brief overview of each song off the album. Enjoy


Outside is the perfect opening to Camp. It starts off with a low-sounding chorus and slowly builds into a long story, a story about the hardships Donald faced as a kid, and it’s sad. From talking about his Dad saving money and his Mom working at Mrs. Winners to talking about his cousin being changed by the streets and how he can no longer have him as a role model. It’s deeper than Donald has ever gotten before and it’s a perfect way to begin the camping experience by bearing it all.


Firefly has a much more upbeat tempo. Firefly, instead of talking about Donald’s past, is talking about the present and that new people are discovering him. People see him and recognize him. It does talk about how he used to be called things, but now he’s succeeding and getting everything he worked for.


If EP had Freaks and Geeks, Camp has Bonfire. It is not as much a part of the story but is more a chance for the listener to remember what amazing and witty lyrics Donald can make. It starts off with a horn and goes into a drum beat all while voices are heard in the background. Bonfire is a good song and it is the one song people know Camp for so far, but it is very different from the other songs on the album. (Click here to check out the video on youtube.)

All The Shine

All The Shine takes a drastic step down from Bonfire in that it has a light beat that sounds incredible and is definitely more of a personal song for Donald. Donald talks about how he used to be uncool, and still is, but the reason he does it is to get what he wanted: to shine. He wants to be good at what he does. (Click here to check out All The Shine unplugged)

Letter Home

Letter Home is a short song, but is most likely a true story, possibly that Donald even did write for a girl. Donald asks this girl to trust him and that she is all he ever wanted.

Video: Childish Gambino Performs “Bonfire” On “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon”


Heartbeat is one of my favorite songs on Camp. Donald is given a chance to rap about girls he likes and why he likes them. He remembers the times he’s had with them. Heartbeat is a great song with a great beat (heartbeat) that together makes the song one. Heartbeat may end up being one of Gambino fan’s favorites.


The more I listen to Backpackers, the more I enjoy it. It has such a different sound than any other song on the album. It goes really hard and it is probably going to be a very famous song for Gambino live or maybe I love it because Donald references the rap culture article written about him (HERE). It was written by a student at Brown in his junior year about the fact that Donald talks about rape a lot as a joke. Donald tells him to,”…shut your mouth, before I fuck it.”


L.E.S. (Lower East Side) could be a slow song at a wedding for your wife. Most of the song is full of Donald’s incredible violinist making the beat to the song really amazing. Donald raps about meeting a girl who he thinks is the baddest. He hopes nobody sees the things they do, but he also wishes people would catch them. It is a statement that is saying that Donald still does not want to be fully recognized because he is scared at what people might think, but he really doesn’t care.

Hold You Down

Hold You Down was one of my favorite songs since I first listened to the album. It talks about Donald’s issues growing up and how everyone always thought of him the same way, how he stole things like clothes just to fit in but the kids saw through it, and how people didn’t think he was cool because of where he came from. It’s songs like this that make Donald one of the best out there for revealing it all.

Kids (Keep Up)

Maybe the reason Kids (Keep Up) has been getting so many bad reviews is because it strays from the general flow of the album. I on the other hand actually enjoy it. It’s soft and there’s much less lyrical work, which is replaced by a kind tone and story. Donald wants someone, most likely a girl he likes, to keep up with him so he can continue what he loves and also have this special person.

You See Me

You See Me has already become a fan favorite at Gambino concerts. It is extremely different than the previous track accompanied by a bass that might shake your car if you play it at full volume. You See Me is, like Bonfire, a chance for Donald to show his genius lyrics. He also shows how fast he can rap.


Sunrise is accompanied by one of the best sounds on Camp, a chorus that sounds like campers singing around a campfire. Donald raps,” Ay, what it do, bitch? Why these other rappers do shit stupid?” Donald knows he is better than any other rapper out there because he is not afraid. Sunrise also features a female vocalist that rocks.

That Power

That Power ends the Camp experience with the “line of the century” that most people will not get. It also ends the story told throughout the album of Donald at Camp as a kid. The song ends with a four-minute long story, mostly devoid of music, which Donald tells about a girl he met at this summer camp. They are on the bus going to the pick-up point. He like-likes this girl but he is not sure if the feelings are returned. He tells her, fearing he will never see her again. I will not ruin it though. You will have to find out November 15th. All I will say is that from that day forth, Donald became who he is today, telling everyone everything so there is nothing for anyone else to tell. He has never gotten off the bus. He has always been at CAMP.

Camp starts November 15, get it or get going.

Matthew Maddock | Bright Futura Columnist

One Comment on “Student Review of Childish Gambino’s debut album “Camp”

  1. Still my favorite album of 2011. Can anyone else rehearse bonfire by heart.

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