By James Montgomery
Donald Glover is scaling back his appearances on NBC’s “Community” — which makes us sad because we watched an episode on an American Airlines’ flight once and it was pretty good — though he’s not lightening his course load any. Instead, he’s returning his focus to his musical alter-ego, Childish Gambino … and based on the new song he’s just premiered, we’re willing to forgive him for ditching classes at Greendale C.C.
The track’s called “Centipede,” and it’s a solid extension of the somnambulant, self-effacing styles he tinkered with on efforts like 2011’s Camp (and last year’s underrated Royalty mixtape, too). It begins with Glover singing a cappella while a dog barks in the background — someone give him a treat or something — then slowly builds on a stony beat centered around a piano line and some thudding drums. Glover’s delivery is as assured and awkward as ever, as he makes mentions of hanging out at his grandma’s house and riding the bus, and he works in clever boasts like “More flow, man, than Progressive commercials.”
Of course, “Centipede” quickly switches into a lament about wronging a woman, and as Glover slowly comes unglued, the song does too, getting ominous and echoey while a longwinded rant about money, respect, and the state of the music industry before disappearing on a few sparse piano chords.
It’s a thrilling listen, and if this is what we can expect on Gambino’s next album — reportedly due in the fall — well, we can’t wait. Maybe he should focus on this rap thing full time.