10 Years On from Riot!: A Birthday

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I always used music to travel. I’d trawl forums for albums which, a dodgy download later, would transport me a continent across the world and to lives alien to my own. Growing up in the sweet spot between Edinburgh, West Lothian and Fife, it didn’t take much to feel gloriously consumed by things bigger than me. I never felt trapped by the confines of my small town because I was spending my formative years getting to know what was beyond, content knowing that there was plenty out there waiting for me.

So while I was a silent spectator, it was Paramore who signalled back. As an insecure preteen, it felt like going from being the seer to being the seen. I wasn’t eavesdropping on conversations any more but being reached out to and invited to the dialogue.

I remember quite vividly buying Riot! on CD (round, shiny, plays music without eating up your data). I was at the top end of twelve, maybe just thirteen, on a Saturday afternoon trip into town with friends. One of my first without parental supervision. I had birthday money to spend and, like we did back then, headed straight to HMV.

What I don’t remember is getting to know it, identifying favourite tracks early on, growing accustomed to the lulls and rises of it between pressing play over and over again. I, quite honestly, don’t remember much of myself before that album. Music is a great way of characterising chapters in life but I struggle to remember Riot! just not being there. Sometimes you’ll meet people who, when you cross paths, it’s like they walked in and switched the light on. Very quickly you forget that moments ago you were sitting alone in a dark room, and that you were ever unaware of their impending arrival. There aren’t many albums I’d apply that experience to, but Riot! is one of them.

While All We Know Is Falling lamented betrayals it didn’t understand, Riot! had found its fight. It pointed the finger with more righteousness but really earmarked a visceral kind of introspection that’s now so characteristic of Paramore. Hayley always gave herself a hard time lyrically, and gave herself a hard time for giving herself a hard time – a teen just like the rest of us, she was navigating the waters of self worth at an age when we don’t really have the means.

It’s a lesson I’m still learning today, and one in a series to which I didn’t really connect until Hayley wrote them. She demonstrated that the best of us can struggle to keep our heads above water during periods of figuring-ourselves-out, but that we can find peace in it too – that we don’t need to make it to the other side before we can see value in ourselves.

To be a young girl knee deep in a genre so saturated with men, men’s takes and men’s talents and men’s power, having Paramore in my emotional arsenal was a game changer. That Hayley became an icon for girls and women is no breaking news, and she’s already up there with the Gwen Stefanis and Shirley Mansons and Joan Jetts.

She isn’t the Patti Smith of my generation, though. She’s the Hayley Williams of my generation. Right place, right time, right message. The fact that thousands of us feel so similarly shaped by having the privilege of growing up alongside her is, on one hand, a sad indictment of the genres we grew up on and the gender imbalance of platforms held. But god, it has been a privilege.

I was young, still developing my world view and my view of myself, and I heard Hayley feeling things like I did. I also saw her as an incredible, creative, stomping and unapologetic force. That she didn’t shy away from vulnerability, championed the weird and cultivated self expression as no less than a moral stance completely set me up for adolescence.

Riot!, now, represents painful adolescent experiences that I wish I could live all over again. It’s not my favourite of theirs – if they’d stagnated over the past decade I likely wouldn’t be writing this – but it was a vehicle for my own development like no other Paramore record. You don’t realise, at that point in your life, that you’re feeling things in the most raw and earnest way you ever will.

I’m ten years older now, hopefully ten years wiser. I still turn to Paramore in the knowledge that they’ll hold a mirror up to me until I’ve had a chance to put myself back together. Next week I’ll be spending my twenty third birthday at one of their shows with my best friend, a girl who accompanied me to HMV and spent the subsequent years by my side listening to Riot!, traversing our emotional common ground. I expect those on stage will strike me as old friends, too.

 

 

International Women’s Day 2017 – A Soundtrack

As each IWD comes to pass, I find myself more enamoured with the women in my life – friends, family, and acquaintances I admire from afar. They’re as reliable a support network as I could ever dream of having and my primary day to day inspiration. From friends who use their talents to promote the causes we share a passion for, to a mother who became my best friend in adulthood, my early 20s are proving to be happily woman-centric.

We are resilient, warm, and unapologetic (or working on it, if you’re me). We listen and we strive to cultivate an intersectional approach to not just our feminism but our lives – because really, they’re one and the same. We’re often too humble, admonishing our own instinctive lean towards modesty, but we are always learning to recognise our shortcomings and blind spots. To be emotional, and let that define us if we like, but also realise that it’s optional. We notice that as women we carry an innate hesitance to just say without disclaimer, to be perceived attaching authority to our opinions, and so we are driven to make a living from doing just that. Our arts and our sciences are essential, but they are not as effective a tool as our day to day solidarity.

***

I was raised by a woman, but I was also raised by music. My dad was very musical, and I’m sure I absorbed some of that, but it played a smaller role in my mum’s life. This meant that after his passing, while my mum had her favourites (The Monkees, Meatloaf, and Al Green off the top of my head) I was in the musical driver’s seat. From a very young age I sought out the sounds and thoughts of those worlds away from me, feasting on any genre I had access to. In terms of what I liked, the requirements were about as loose as they are now: whether it was a beat that facilitated the many hours I would spend self-choreographing round the living room (this also hasn’t changed), lyrics that made sense of my confused preteen feelings, or opinions that I had never been exposed to, I wanted it all.

And so, while I attempt to carve out a place for myself as a writer, the most precious form of expression to me will always be music. I’m competent in a couple of instruments, but I’ve never had the guts to put my words to them, so my respect for those who do – and who do so successfully – is boundless. It’s a privilege to be able to indulge in the arts but some genres were also borne out of necessity, an avenue for minorities and working class people to escape the confines of poverty and oppression, giving a voice to the experiences of themselves and others like them.

That’s why it seems fitting to recognise International Women’s Day with a compilation of my favourite tracks celebrating womanhood. Some I have loved my whole life, while some are more recent discoveries. Some are widely respected and critically acclaimed, while the inclusion of others could almost certainly be effectively torn apart in longform by VICE. No matter, because the flavours of womanhood are limitless.

Please do let me know if you have any tracks to add, for I’m always on the look out.

Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y.

 

Starting off with a classic. Queen Latifah defiantly touches on misogyny, cat calling, domestic violence and her experiences as a black woman at the hands of men in her community.

 

Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl

 

No feminist music collection can be complete without recognising the riot grrrl movement, particularly if you grew up on punk rock. ‘When she talks, I hear the revolution/In her hips, there’s revolutions/When she walks, the revolution’s coming/In her kiss, I taste the revolution.’

 

 

Christina Aguilera – Can’t Hold Us Down

 

This was, if my memory serves me, the very first song to put feminism on my radar. I adored Christina and remember using pocket money to buy a copy of Stripped, which I kept on rotation in our living room stereo for years. At such a young age I couldn’t fully comprehend the microaggressions being referred to on this track, on-the-nose as it is, but the overall message is one that stuck with me. ‘So what am I not supposed to have an opinion?/Should I be quiet just because I’m a woman?/Call me a bitch ’cause I speak what’s on my mind/Guess it’s easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled.’

 

 

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

 

From one of the most important punk rock albums of our time. Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as a trans woman didn’t transform the scene which likes to think of itself as more progressive than it is, but hell did she have an impact. As well as being a bloody great band, Laura’s activism for trans and feminist causes means that Against Me! is more punk than you could ever dream of being. Should be required listening for anyone claiming to be intersectional. ‘You’ve got no cunt in your strut/You’ve got no hips to shake/And you know it’s obvious/But we can’t choose how we’re made/.’

 

Jhené Aiko – Spotless Mind

 

I’m a huge fan of Jhené, and this track really speaks to me in terms of self acceptance and emotional growth. Combined with the video, it reassures me that as a woman I have the right to be whoever I want to be, in as many different ways as I like and in as many different ways as I can’t yet predict. ‘Shame on me for changing? Shame on you for staying the same.’

 

Kimya Dawson – I Like Giants

 

A voice and style immediately recognisable to those of us who went through a Moldy Peaches phase – or saw a few minutes of Juno – this is a typically lovely track about perspective and self worth. A reassuring rub on the shoulder in sonic form. ‘I like giants, especially girl giants/’Cause all girls feel too big sometimes, regardless of their size.’

 

 

Beyoncé – ***Flawless

 

Well obviously. With feminism woven into all of her output these days, I could really pick any Yoncé track from the last two albums – but this is certainly the most blatant, with an excerpt monologue from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in case you didn’t get the message the first thousand times. It’s Bey’s world and we’re living in it. (This is also why she won’t appear on the playlist I put together alongside this post – if it’s Tidal or bust, I’m out.)

 

Paramore – Ain’t It Fun

 

This track’s message might not be overtly feminist (check out Anklebiters which definitely fits the bill), but of this list it’s probably closest to my heart for how it continues to help me embrace emotional resilience. Its dry-witted musings never grow stale or irrelevant, and I dare say that my generation (specifically girls of the alt-music persuasion) would be very different had we not grown up in Hayley’s shadow, despite her missteps along the way. It’s unfortunate that she stands relatively alone as a woman of her level of success in the genre, but she is phenomenal. ‘Ain’t it fun living in the real world? Ain’t it good being all alone?’

 

 

Salt-N-Pepa – None of Your Business

 

Another early ’90s classic, this track calls out the double standards of perceived promiscuity before ‘slut shaming’ appeared in a single think piece. It even features a message of support for sex workers, even if lacking in nuance. ‘If I want to take a guy home with me tonight, it’s none of your business/And if she wants to be a freak and sell it on the weekend, it’s none of your business.’

 

Sleater-Kinney – #1 Must Have

 

Another band to grow out of the riot grrrl movement, this track sees Sleater-Kinney decry the watering down of feminism in the name of capitalism and marketing – a grievance which is no less relevant today, nearly two decades after its release. ‘And I think that I sometimes might have wished/For something more than to be a size six/But now my inspiration rests/In-between my beauty magazines and my credit card bills.’

 

Lauryn Hill – Doo-Wop (That Thing)

 

A treasure of hip hop and neo-soul, it seems apt to end with Lauryn Hill and this anthem for female confidence. Detailing the difficulties of relationships and the additional burdens carried by women, Hill insists: ‘Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem, baby girl.’

 

 

The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (album review)

Originally published in Qmunicate Magazine, March 2016.

 

It would be very easy to write off The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of itThe 1975 as a product of the vacuous hype machine, a band victim to its own celebrity or, well, any of the accusations presented in the video for latest single ‘The Sound’ in a delightfully tongue-in-cheek package – but the indie-pop cool kids have delivered a record with merits enough to demand the cynics sit down and take them seriously. Building on the formula of their previous full-length release but improving in nearly every way, I Like It When You Sleep… is a realisation of the band’s layered, colourful potential. They get away with everything they almost certainly shouldn’t – 17 tracks, including interludes, which fly by; lyrics like “you look shit and you smell a bit”; and a noticeable lack of potential singles in comparison with previous efforts. Dripping with ‘80s synth licks and beautifully produced, there is an honesty and authenticity to the album which, while characteristic of The 1975, is particularly arresting here – there is a real sense of Healy holding a magnifying glass to himself, and the album benefits from it.  Ranging from the depths of electro-melancholy (‘Somebody Else’) to playful grooves (‘Love Me’), The 1975 have crafted their own world in order to take over ours.

Halsey [live review] – O2 Academy, Glasgow 19/02/16

  

With tonight’s show originally billed for the ABC before being upgraded due to phenomenal demand, the sticky floors of the Academy are full to absolute capacity for Halsey (otherwise known as Ashley Frangipane) to make her Scottish live debut. To describe Halsey as an artist coasting on hype, however, would be to do her a disservice; she very much owes the internet for her discovery and accelerated success, certainly, but the release of 2015’s Badlands (acknowledged by many as a defining pillar in the current wave of moody electropop) and the long list of impressive collaborations and tour spots under her belt confirm that her art has legs to stand on. Currently in the process of emerging as something of a cultural icon, too, Halsey embodies the values of today’s younger music consumer – outspoken, tuned into social issues and unapologetic in her expression of self, but with an advantage on many in the industry as, at just 21 years old, she speaks as part of the generation driving this shared conscience.

That sense of being simultaneously one-of-us and somewhat alien – ethereal, even – is most definitely present during her time on stage tonight, shaved head and thigh-high boots setting a striking silhouette against relentless backlighting. Gasoline serves as a fitting introduction to the set, Halsey’s distinctive timbre asking: ‘Are you insane like me? Been in pain like me?’ in a way which would feel as personal as a whisper were it not for the audience’s volume overpowering her, suggesting that they believe they indeed are and have been. Barely stopping to breathe between tracks, Halsey launches through the majority of her album material with a stage presence that seems almost carnal, crouching and weaving and as desperate for connection as the swell of hands reaching towards her from feet below. A small backing band helps the songs pack more of a punch than their recorded counterparts, though the vocal track used through meatier sections can sometimes be enough to pull you out of the performance momentarily. Fortunately, there’s no risk of this raising questions regarding Halsey’s vocal competency as her voice remains solid throughout the rest of the show, guttural and dulcet all at once.

Where many pop acts struggle to find the balance between visuals which reach unnecessarily distracting levels and visuals which scream half-hearted afterthought, the production of tonight’s show is gloriously effective and stunning at points. A simple angled screen behind the band’s set up displays atmosphere-driven imagery throughout, dipping in and out of solar systems, animated Brooklyn Bridges and a plethora of beautiful colours perfectly timed to enhance the experience without overshadowing the performance. As the music is left to speak for itself, then, Halsey herself speaks considerably little, and keeps it almost exclusively to admissions of love and gratitude for her supporters, though stopping to remind her fans that they “don’t belong to anyone but [themselves]”.

Tonight’s set certainly feels short, but isn’t unreasonable considering her limited bank of material and the ultra-cohesiveness of the tracks. Impressively so considering her relatively short time as a touring artist, Halsey has perfected the art of establishing intimacy in circumstances which should be anything but, performing vulnerability and displaying the strength of doing so in one short hour of raw mid-tempo synthpop. It’s difficult to imagine her material would work particularly well otherwise, however – one can’t imagine that the scores of younger fans in the room tonight can always relate to her stories of sex, drugs, and complex relationships viewed through a 3am haze, but she makes herself accessible in a way that allows fans to see shades of themselves reflected in there anyway. And therein lies her greatest strength.

Despite the motif of honesty pushed through everything Halsey does, she appears at her most genuine as she engages in mutual adoration, gazing deep into the venue and asking: “Who could ever get sick of this?”

I Dance to Purple Songs [playlist]

One of my favourite things to do is make themed playlists (tip: my Spotify library is a riot, don’t even bother), especially when they’re for other people, and especially when I think I’ll be expressing something or other with this little collection of tracks I spent hours selecting and agonising over. I also really wanted to do enough of something to at least be able to convince myself that I had been mildly productive on this sleepy Sunday, but I have a bad habit of second guessing myself when it comes to blog themes (I’m still working on how to be somewhat interesting). I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, both for publications and to be stored away on my hard drive never to be seen by human eyes again, and all I’ve really wanted to discuss is music. Which is the case most of the time, really. So I spent the afternoon throwing together a playlist of, well, my favourite songs right now. I did toy with a few theme ideas – themes make things a hell of a lot easier – but nothing sparked my imagination much, and the internet doesn’t need another ‘Songs to listen to when you’re surrounded by mush on Valentines Day’ playlist which consists solely of Beyoncé songs. Because mine would. I promise.

I also really like the way this kind of playlist can act as a screenshot into someone’s life at that moment, because these songs aren’t suggestions in the hope of winning cool points nor do they need to adhere to tone or cohesion. They’re the tracks someone keeps going back to as they go about their life, and it’s definitely a fun way to get inside someone’s head when you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are as passionate about music as you are.

That, of course, is far too straightforward a thing for me to do, so I’ll also be using this to talk about my synaesthesia a little. “Synaesthesia is a condition where a sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, triggers a sensation in another, such as taste. For example, some people with synaesthesia can taste numbers or hear colours.” (Thanks, Google.) I’ve been a synaesthete for as long as I can remember and it’s a cool little personality tidbit that I give heavy credit to for my creative writing flare. The main strand of synaesthesia I experience is day/name/number/object/pretty much anything you can think of > colour (though it goes a lot further, and I’m still discovering them even at this age as ‘not things everyone does’) and so I’ll also note what colour each of  these songs is to me. I have yet to figure out if my enjoyment of music is in some way linked to the colour I see it as. I will use HTML codes, because I am a woman of the times.

Catch the embedded playlist at the bottom of the page!

1. Your Graduation – Modern Baseball

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Yes, yes, I know, groundbreaking choice of Modern Baseball track. It took me a long time to get into this band the way so many people are, and I couldn’t see the attraction much beyond this song, but about a month ago it clicked and now I can’t get enough of  their stuff. I’m really excited to see them play Stereo again.

 

2. Sloppy Seconds – Watsky

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Watsky has been, far and away, not just my most listened to artist this week but of the year so far. He is a master of words in a way I could only dream 0f, and his tunes range from damn great to damn fun. This was actually the first track of his I was told to listen to and it popped back into regular rotation for me recently when a couple of lines really caught my ear in a way they hadn’t before. Show me someone who says they’ve got no baggage/I’ll show you somebody who’s got no story/Nothing gory means no glory, but baby please don’t bore me.

3. Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time – Panic! At The Disco

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I have been asked recently if they new Panic! album is good and honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say. I don’t know if it’s good. Brendon’s lyrics are passable at the best of times and his voice is so good that it’s almost difficult to judge the songwriting independently of that, but I know I have listened to it more than I have since Pretty. Odd. was released. This track is huge, that sample works works perfectly and it definitely satisfies the twelve year old inside me who is still covered in Fueled By Ramen stickers.

4. Dance For You – Beyoncé

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I said the playlist wouldn’t be entirely Beyoncé. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Bey fan, but this has been one of my favourites for a long time and I never grow tired of the way the chorus almost hits you in waves. That beat makes me want to take all my clothes off.

5. Losing Myself – State Champs

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One of the few pop punk bands formed after 2003 that I still listen to, State Champs really do the by-the-numbers thing well and this is always the first place I go when I give the newest album a spin. We attract what we’re ready for.

6. Freakish – Saves The Day

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A classic, of course, but it popped up the other day and it was like I was hearing it for the first time. I knew I had grown out of Saves The Day when they bored me senseless on that Brand New tour, but… this chorus just gets me, in all the glory of its emo.

7. Crumb – Lafawndah

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I was given Lafawndah’s Tan EP to review recently and was very pleasantly surprised. Some of the sounds on this are crazy good and this track in particularly is delicious for the rhythm-orientated part of me.

8. Driveway Birthday – Milk Teeth

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I’ve been digging the lyrics to this a lot lately when I’ve felt down and didn’t feel it could be battled with a one man Nicki Minaj dance party. Awesome band.

9. Junk – Eyedea & Abilities

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I’m still getting to grips with the E&A material but keep returning to this one. Definitely not background music, it demands your attention in all the best ways.

10. Same Ol’ Mistakes – Rihanna

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I’ve really been loving ANTI, and this song is a good example of the moody haziness of the whole album. The production alone makes it worth a listen.

11. We Don’t Believe What’s On TV – Twenty One Pilots

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Again, the album this appears on (Blurryface) is one I’ve been really into recently but this one keeps reappearing on my day-to-day playlists. I don’t care what’s in your hair, I just wanna know what’s on your mind. I struggled to decide between this and Doubt as the Twenty One Pilots feature.

 

So there you have it. I encourage everyone to make similar ‘this is what it sounds like to be me right now’ playlists!

 

spotify:user:hannahpavlove:playlist:1kwv8Z9Q10orC4D3gxOw9H

Lafawndah – Tan (EP review)

Originally published in Qmunicate Magazine, February 2016.

On her second EP, Lafawndah (real name Yasmin Dubois) makes use of sonic space just as much as she does the sounds of her multicultural background. The half-Iranian, half-Egyptian alt pop artist throws in influences from her heritage as well as time spent in Paris, Tehran and Mexico to create something simultaneously textured and delicately scattered; the thick atmosphere of Tan never falters although the strength of Lafawndah’s ethereal melodies does at points.
The release, fifteen minutes in length, is threaded together with lyrics about politics and relationships with other women over persistent loops of pipes, drums, and synths in what becomes a near hypnotic infusion of rhythms. At such a short length, the lack of structure to each of the four tracks is palatable, though one can imagine that a full-length of a similar style may run the risk of being impenetrable. That said, nothing suggests that Lafawndah had any other intention; Western music is not what influenced her, and so her songs meander to fit a different (and what often feels more thoughtful) standard. Soothing yet uncomfortable; sleepy but unrelenting; certainly vulnerable but still with the confidence of a woman who knows what kind of art she wants to produce, Tan is a compelling account of juxtapositions.

Learn To Code || The world of Because The Internet

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Self-proclaimed ‘son of Kanye’ Donald Glover is nothing if not an all-rounder; with his proverbial finger in an impressive number of artistic pies, it seems that anything with his name attached can expect some level of success. Starting off in comedy sketch group Derrick, working with Tina Fey as a writer for 30 Rock, blagging a half-hour Comedy Central special for his stand-up, establishing himself as an actor on Dan Harmon’s Community and creating music under the moniker Childish Gambino (though he insists that he doesn’t see himself as a rapper), it’s unlikely that you won’t have come across at least one of his ventures at some point.

What is particularly noteworthy about Glover’s projects is the ease with which he is accepted as a legitimate contributor to these varying mediums – as consumers, we love to pigeonhole, and he very much flies in the face of this. There is a reason for this, of course, and one that has become clearer since the release of his second indie label full-length Because The Internet.

There is an honesty to everything Glover does. His art is very much an extension of self, without exception; even his Community character, Troy Barnes, evolved to reflect his real-life counterpart more. It was apparent on album Camp, something he wrote “for [his] thirteen year old self”, though the insecurity and self-consciousness he mentions in interviews nowadays shines through in his audible attempt to make the album perfect. This believable factor is likely why we’re happy to let him float between disciplines – we can recognise the Donald Glover persona through them all. Come the time of Because The Internet, he seemed to have realised that the secret wasn’t in perfection but in the honesty he had honed, and thus set out to create something a little more “ignorant”.

And honest it was. A few Instagram uploads of brief confessions scrawled on hotel paper set the tone for BTI; from “I’m afraid I’m here for nothing” to “I didn’t leave Community to rap. I don’t wanna rap. I wanted to be on my own.” to mentions of fighting his label to release the record in December for people to have “when everything slows down and quiet. So you can start over”, the internet became saturated with concerns and debates over Glover’s emotional well-being. Responses ranged from accusations of a publicity stunt to interviewers asking if he was depressed.

Oftentimes, honest art stems from a certain kind of narcissism. Maybe this is the case for Glover – and even if it was, I don’t intend for it to be framed as a criticism – but his main output in the aftermath of his Instagram activity was to ascertain that if he’s depressed, then we all are. He thinks we all feel this way, at least some of the time, and that we’re not talking about it enough. That at a time when we are more connected than we ever have been before – y’know, because of the internet – he’s falling into feelings of isolation, and that he doesn’t feel that it’s at all exclusive to him.

Whether you agree with him or not, and regardless of whether or not you find the nature of his output pretentious (another worry he acknowledged), this gave way to what is less of a second album and more of an art project, undeniably. A short film written and starred in by Glover, Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, was released prior to the album. It remains open to interpretation, but it seems to convey ideas of detachment and feeling lost; Glover noted that the album would make more sense in the context of the film.

Leading up to the record’s December 10th release, Glover organised impromptu listening parties in public parks by announcing the event a couple of hours beforehand via Twitter. Allowing people to show up, hear the new songs and ask question was another way of the artist connecting with his fans and giving them reason to invest in his brand. See, Donald Glover doesn’t believe in the worth of an album by itself and he doesn’t think it’s enough. He believes that music should be free (because, well, it essentially is these days) and that industry attempts to battle this are futile. In the face of this, he tried to create a world that “people can live in for as long as they want”. So, naturally, the album was accompanied by a 72-page screenplay.

Initially posted online and eventually distributed in fully-binded physical form with some vinyl releases, the screenplay revolves around The Boy, a born-rich character who struggles with feelings of isolation and frustration with what goes on around him. Glover also shot and released very short scenes from the script, near snapshots, which coincide with songs from the album. Some of the characters are based on people in his real life – art as extension of self.

The story certainly adds more depth to the ‘world’ Glover carved with BTI and feels disjointed enough to reflect the themes occuring throughout his other output of the time, and it helps some of the songs take on a more literal and easy-to-digest form, but the album is a feat in itself. It is dense and as far from immediate as a great record can get – it is not an exaggeration to say it really takes months for the surprises that pop up on every listen to become few and far between. It is, however, wholly rewarding. Musically it is surreal, sometimes messy and consistently gripping. His rapping has come on leaps and bounds since Camp and, along with his ever-witty lyricism, seems less forced. Glover has often talked of the link between comedy and hip hop, but the consistent push for a punch line which was present on previous releases has faded and made way for stream-of-consciousness level honesty (though it’s difficult to miss ‘Got no patience ’cause I’m not a doctor/Girl why is you lyin’, girl why you Mufasa’). It is, as the title suggests, an album about the internet, but only in the context of connection. It oozes self-awareness and existentialism.

Following the release of the album, Gambino and his posse embarked on the Deep Web Tour. Showcasing impressive technological and graphics work, even being designed alongside an interactive app through which the audience could interact with the set-up, the idea was for nothing in the world of Because The Internet to make sense without the rest. Whether purely out of desire to create something bigger than an album, or desire to convince people to invest in him as an artist – probably both – Glover proved himself as a creative.

There is speculation that his sullen, morose appearance in interviews since the birth of the project is part of his playing The Boy, merely an act as part of the Because The Internet era as he states that we’re unhappy because we’re trying to follow a pattern laid out when the world was different; that he feels lost and empty. While probably partly the case, it’s unlikely that there is much separation between The Boy and Glover himself.

He has learned to exploit vulnerability and his art is all the better for it.