Donald Glover's newest album as Childish Gambino, "Because the Internet," is a self-aware portrait of a young man isolated by technology, celebrity and relentless introspection. Anyone who caught Glover's recent bloodletting Instagram session (in which he listed a barrage of self-criticisms on hotel stationery) might think that unplugging from the Web would give his brain a much-deserved break. But then he'd have lost his source material for this sometimes goofy, often sad, very capable laptop-rap album.
Trollish Web-culture jokes abound here (there's a song named after the indicted hacker Weev and the popular fight-video site Worldstar Hip-Hop), but it's all done in service of documenting the rootless, distracted millennial male mind. "3005" is a lush, electro-bendy production where he tries to muster up a commitment to fidelity; "Crawl" takes moves from Odd Future's gnarled, noisy goth-rap while "No Exit" nails the aimless night-driving of a guy who wants to be out late but suspects he's too old for this.
For fans who will miss his less-than-entirely-jovial exit from his day job on "Community," "Because the Internet" carves a place for him in today's Web-addled indie-rap world, even if some offline fresh air might do him some good as well.
"Because the Internet"
Two and a half stars