Album Review: Childish Gambino’s journey revealed in ‘STN/MTN’

Yousef Fatehpour

The first song on “STN/MTN” starts with a monologue from Childish Gambino.

Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, talking about a dream he had. A dream where he ran his home town of Atlanta, where he was on every radio station and where he had a DJ Drama Mixtape. This is shortly followed by a plethora of classic songs that were crafted in Atlanta remixed by Gambino leading into the end of his dream and the beginning of his “Kauai EP.”

Gambino typically separates main themes from his mixtapes from his albums while his albums/eps tend to be a bit more serious. Mixtapes (“Royalty” that came out a year ago) tend to just be straight raps that fans would love.

The mixtape starts off with a remix of Ludacris’s classic “Southern Hospitality,” quickly shifting into “Partna Dem” which is a fan favorite instrumental in the whole album.

“No Small Talk” is a highlight, Gambino rapping about having two gold chains and never even wearing them gives an insight on the satirical aspect of the whole mixtape.

Childish Gambino is the voice actor in the cartoon "Adventure Time" as the character of Marshall Lee. Photo from
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There’s a number of satirical tracks on this album, but it never feels like he’s disrespecting the Atlanta culture, they seem to be just friendly homages to the music he grew up with.

The highest point on the album has to be “U Don’t Have To Call” followed by “Candler Road.” “U Don’t Have To Call” literally changes the whole formula of the album as Gambino skews the hook of Usher’s classic song of the same name, and follows it with almost a spoken-word esque verse about love and his race without coming off as preachy.

“Candler Road,” named after a street in his hometown, has him going off with no hook over this heavy instrumental. Suddenly it changes into probably the most lush instrumental heard this whole year.

The second half has this unfinished feel to it as he seems like he’s making up the whole hook as he goes “To love you all the time, I don’t have words for this part, But I know it should sound like this.”

The “Kauai” EP was a whole change sonically, this is the part of the project where Gambino wakes up to his real life on a beach in Kauai, Hawaii. It’s very pop based with songs like “Retro” and “Sober” which are also standouts on the whole project as a whole. Although these songs weren’t worth coming back to as the “STN/MTN” tape.

The whole idea of a dream leading into real life was well executed on the album. Jaden Smith actually narrates parts in the EP.

Overall as a whole, “STN/MTN” is a very entertaining listen. The beauty of it, through all the satire and highlights and even the posse tracks, it’s all just rap but it just feels like so much more. He’s always been good at evoking feeling, and it’s no different here. On a scale “STN/MTN” is an 8/10 and “Kauai” is a 7/10.