Childish Gambino

Kauai

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AllMusic Review by

As Imagine Dragons would say, "welcome to the new age," as Kauai is a benefit EP (money going to Hawaiian eco-preservation) that, when combined with the free STN MTN mixtape, forms a concept mixtape plus EP for a package that continues the story found on Gambino's 2013 album, Because the Internet. Complain that that's convoluted, or better yet, accept that distribution channels now allow for ambitious experiments such as this, because this is an attractive R&B-based EP where Gambino's character offers a smooth crooning appendix that's post-relationship, post-trust-in-the-world, and maybe even post-hip-hop. "Now that it's over, I"ll never be sober" goes the opener with a slow, nostalgic roll underneath, sounding as if the rapper joined the DeBarge family, while "The Palisades" is a calm-and-cool cut with guitars strumming and harmonies bumpin' while the genre of yacht-hop is further explored. Tack this on the mixtape, which was tacked onto the album, and this is an opus worth crowing about, but Kauai on its own is a weird and warm example of Gambino in a casual mode, strolling through pop music as if it ain't nuthin' and yet turning out memorable numbers that come in handy any time the ego swells while the world outside betrays. Snarky and hopeful play well together here, plus Jaden Smith surprises with his stern spoken word during "Late Night in Kauai."

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