By Babur Ilchi, October 30 2014 —
Childish Gambino’s STN MTN / Kuaui creates a cohesive storyline that runs through a mixtape and an EP. The STN MTN mixtape reflects on Gambino’s time growing up in Atlanta, before transitioning into the Kuaui EP, his dream-like world.
“Sober,” the first song of the EP, is a pop tune reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s solo work with its lofty, feel-good lyrics. A bass drop near the end of the song serves to compliment STN MTN’s harsher beat, but quickly bounces back into a pop tune.
Jaden Smith is a welcome addition to the EP, bringing a fresh perspective to Gambino’s Hawaiian utopia, “Late Night in Kuaui.” While Smith doesn’t actually rap, the spoken-word style of narration lends itself well to Gambino’s style. While Gambino’s rhymes are decent, the closing poem by his friend Fam discusses originality in the world makes the song feel complete.
The secret edition of “V. 3005 Beach Picnic Version” is a remix, but lyrics found on Gambino’s website and rapped over top of this edition of “3005” give it a refreshing twist on the original. The track provides insight into Gambino’s musical direction and outlook on life, after Because the Internet’s 0theme of depression and losing your way.
Overall, the Kuaui EP is an original release with an overarching story that complements and clashes with STN MTN, but the songs “Pop Thieves,” “Retro” and “The Palisades” are repetitive with looping pop tunes and cheesy lyrics about love and sex. It’s nice to hear Gambino lighten up, but the effort is lacking.