Childish Gambino, Because the Internet

Because the Internet makes it really clear that Childish Gambino (actor Donald Glover) is serious—for real, for real—about rapping.  Now that he has quit NBC’s Community, he has to go full throttle. That’s what I’m sensing with this project, his sophomore follow-up to his 2011 debut, Camp. Because the Internet finds Gambino less concerned with introducing his rap alter ego and more about doing what he wants, and this is why he’s winning. Sonically, Gambino’s musical choices have an experimental quality that works, and lyrically, he skillfully runs the gamut covering a range of topics from existential introspection to social commentary (especially where Internet culture is concerned). He’s aware of his quirks but just doesn’t care. You either get Childish Gambino or you don’t, and that’s a nice deviation from the typical hip-hop cool kids trying way too hard to impress.

Available at iTunes.

M.I.A., Matangi

M.I.A’s fourth proper album is named after a tantric goddess who governs speech, music, knowledge and the arts. Those who worship the goddess are said to acquire mastery of the arts and attract masses of people. It all makes sense after you listen to a few tracks. This is M.I.A.’s attempt to deviate from her more gritty, in-your-face, electronica hip-hop sound. Matangi’s tracks embody previous elements of M.I.A.’s eclectic grit, but the sound is a lot more seductive and hypnotic. M.I.A. handled a lot of the production herself this time around, but she did enlist longtime collaborator Switch, Danja and Hit-Boy to lend helping hands.

Available at iTunes.  

Dondria, “Ain’t No Way”

Dondria has inducted herself into the Lonely Hearts Christmas Club with “Ain’t No Way.” The one gift she wants is for her man to be there in the flesh on December 25. Dondria sings the song in a beautiful sultry soprano, and on the hook croons, “Ain’t no way I’m gonna have a merry Christmas/I won’t accept no boy just make it home boy/Because I really need you,” as she demands that her boo drop all plans and make his way to her place for the holiday. If he doesn’t make it, there will be tears. Dondria, who has never recorded a Christmas song before, said she didn’t want to be cliché so she took a darker, more emotional approach to the jolly season.

Lupe Fiasco ft. Ed Sheeran, “Old School Love” (Video)

Lupe Fiasco finally dropped the complementary video to his latest single, “Old School Love.” The song is a trip to the past where Lupe muses about his yearning for the good ol’ days of his youth, when life was less complicated. He’s also missing a time when there was more a sense of community, and generally morns the continuous loss of young lives to violence on inner-city streets. The video has a vintage sepia/Technicolor look as Lupe Fiasco seems to be stuck inside of a motion picture newspaper. He rhymes, reasons and makes his way through the streets of the Chi watching children play.

“Old School Love” is the lead single from his forthcoming fifth studio album, Tetsuo and Youth, set for release in early 2014. 

Leona Lewis, “One More Sleep”

Leona Lewis provides a nice alternative Christmas song geared toward those who are in the spirit this year. This jingly tune has a more playful tone, in a style similar to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” where Leona Lewis sings in anticipation of seeing her loved ones on Christmas. This is the debut song from Lewis’s Christmas, With Love, out now.

Catch the video below and get the album on iTunes.

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and love. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl or at