STN MTN/Kauai – Childish Gambino

Today we’re gonna go back to 2014 when Childish dropped two EP’s, one titled STN MTN exclusively on Datpiff and the other as Kauai on all major streaming platforms. Two completely different EP’s dropped within minutes of each other that when put together make Childish’s STN MTN/Kauai masterpiece. The names of the EP’s have a lot to do with the sounds that follow. Childish was born in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Kauai is based off a soul-searching mission to Kauai, Hawaii that ended with a super fresh R&BhasababywithHipHop type EP. All together STN MTN/ Kauai shows us the two sides of Childish that are usually mixed on tracks. The hard Atlanta rapper meets the deep and soulful Childish and makes for an album that “makes it bounce like Spalding” and then drops you “in a tent under the stars…” to sum it up in two lines off the full project.

Since we’re dealing with two separate projects that come together imma format the review slightly differently today.

The Instrumentals

STN MTNBased off of what I mentioned earlier, that the titles reflect the music on the albums we can assume an EP based off of an Atlanta Suburb is gonna be some hard shit. It is. Childish takes the idea of Atlanta rap and runs with it. The beats on STN MTN is a wicked collection of hard hitters. I love describing this portion of the project as “making it bounce like Spalding” because honestly these instrumentals are so addicting I’m taking breaks to dance around the house while writing this. Childish and his team of producers (him being one of them) take all of their individual influences and make some wild instrumentals with them. STN MTN instrumentals are nothing but bops… after all, when Childish gets hype on a track we all know what he’s capable of.

Kauai: For those who haven’t seen photos of Kauai, google it and you’ll understand what this album sounds like. It’s beautiful, tranquil, a sweet escape from the suburbs of Atlanta some might say. Childish takes R&B and puts his Gambino twist on it. He still drops verses on Kauai, while also showing us his true vocal abilities on songs like “Sober” and “The Palisades”. The instrumentals on Kauai (as theorized by myself for the last 5 years) are intended to do for you what Kauai did for Childish – unwind from the chaos of Stone Mountain.

This is why the two combine together to form the full project. Once you experience STN MTN you go soul searching on Kauai, unwind, and get ya head straight.

The Vocals

STN MTN:  The vocals on STN MTN talk about where Childish has been, as well as where he’s planning on going. The idea behind STN MTN is Childish as a kid having a dream that he makes it big and runs the Atlanta rap scene, which is what makes it that much more genuine. I love that the entirety of STN MTN takes place in what is most likely a 35-second dream. He gives us insight to growing up in Atlanta talking about things like the best strip clubs on “U Don’t Have to Call” to “putting in work (on the corner)” on the track “Nextel Chirp”. It’s an ode to the life Childish lived and a musical precursor to his show “Atlanta”. That being said since it’s Childish, every single word means more than one thing. I’ve been listening to this project since it dropped in 2014 and I still hear and find easter eggs I’ve never noticed. STN MTN, also being the longer of the two EP’s (11 songs compared to 8 on Kauai), as well as the fact it’s the rap-heavy portion of the project, there’s an unbelievable amount of double entendres, mad jokes, and super clever shit that years later when you finally understand what it means changes your view of Childish.

Kauai: This EP focuses on Childish’s mental health and relationships. It’s an album about a girl who is obviously toying with Childish’s emotions like it’s god damn Christmas day…poor guy. Makes for a gorgeous Gambino R&B album though. Childish starts the album with the line “And now that it’s over, I’ll never be sober, I couldn’t believe, That I was so high” giving the listeners the idea he just had his heart broken. The rest of the album seems to talk about what could have been had she stuck around. Things like laying under the stars at a bonfire party on “Late Night in Kauai” and “Pop Thieves” (both featuring Jaden Smith), as well as “smokin’ with bae at the beach like this” on “The Palisades”. It truly is a beautiful album about being broken hearted – that’s so upbeat the first couple listens you think it’s an album about currently being in love. While only being eight songs, Kauai really packs a punch and puts the listener on Kauai with Childish trying to get over this girl.

All the vocals on STN MTN/Kauai are so precisely delivered, expertly written, and right from the bottom of Gambino’s heart. It shows us the two very different sides of Childish that we have seen before, just never together like this. I really love how Childish divided the different vibes into two mixtapes to really emphasize to his listeners just how different his two sides can be.

The Overall Vibes

STN MTNI mean for starters the vibes are Atlanta, with a Childish twist. It’s the heavy hitting instrumentals, storytelling lyrics, a glimpse into the streets of Atlanta, and Childish Gambino’s delivery of his message that makes STN MTN such a bop of an album. It’s diverse too, featuring some club bangers, some trap house theme music, and even an entire song dedicated to all the times Childish has been shouted out on the radio in Atlanta called “The Atrium”. For an album that’s guaranteed to “make it bounce like Spalding” look no further than STN MTN.

KauaiI’ve always been a bigger fan of Kauai if I’m being 100% honest. Not because STN MTN doesn’t slap…because there’s no doubt it does. It’s just a beautiful display of a side of Childish we didn’t get to see until Awaken! My Love in 2016. Kauai vibes are special, and although its an EP about heartbreak, it’s so upbeat and beautiful in the stories told that I just can’t help but vibe out with it. When Childish mixes R&B with rap it makes for a sick story, as well as something to dance and sing along to. The final reason I love the vibes on Kauai so much is that at the end Childish is happy again, we hear it in the instrumentals as well as his voice. It makes the album that much better as the listener because you know Kauai changed Childish for the better and after hearing Because the Internet it’s a relief the man got his head right. Again, beast of an album just insanely dark at parts.

The overall vibe of STN MTN/Kauai is (simply put) special. It’s a special project for Childish because he opens up his past, and future to his fans. It’s a special project for the fans because we get two sides of Childish, and nineteen incredibly perfect songs that tell the story of Gambino.

The Essentials

STN MTN“Fucks Given (ft. Nick Banga)”, “No Small Talk (ft. Kari Faux, prod. Black Party and Kari Faux)”, Move That Dope/Nextel Chirp/ Let Your Hair Blow (ft. Young Scooter, prod. Zaytoven)” “Chandler Road (1st half prod. Tim Suby, 2nd half prod. Childish Gambino)”

Kauai: “Sober”, “Retro (ROUGH)”, “The Palisades (ft. Christian Rich)”, “Late Night in Kauai (ft. Jaden Smith)”

The Rating

All in all, STN MTN/Kauai will always have a super special place in my heart because of what a Childish fan I am, as well as the inspiration I draw from him. It opened my mind to a different side of hip-hop and the idea that fitting in the mold is boring…so make music that makes YOU happy. Childish changed me with this project, as well as yet again showed the rap game that he’s not a freak, nor a geek, or anyone to mess with. For all of this, I give STN MTN/Kauai an insanely solid

8.5

I don’t have to explain myself. It’s Childish Gambino we’re talking about here…just re-listen to STN MTN/Kauai if you disagree with that number.

Final Thoughts

Childish has been one of my favorite musicians/main inspirations since “Freaks and Geeks”. I really have nothing bad to say about the guy, he’s a genius and a true renaissance man. STN MTN/Kauai is another example that Childish is really mentally on another level.

Both albums are fantastic in their own ways, and I hope if you haven’t heard it in a while, or at all that you’ll toss it on today and understand why I’m speaking so highly on this album as a whole.

Much love everyone and as per usual thanks for all the love and support!

– JMac

'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 19 Feb 2018

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