centipede, by Childish Gambino

52-centipede

Released July 16, 2013

5 min 53 sec

The first indicator that Childish Gambino was working on a follow-up to CAMP came with the sudden release of “centipede” in the summer of 2013 on his Soundcloud account. Though the track ended up excluded from Because the Internet (perhaps it was never intended for the album), it serves as an interesting bridge between the two albums, and a bit of a glimpse into Gambino’s thought process as he began working on the new album.

The instrumental has a dream-like quality to it, with a lot of echo and emulated marimba. Opening with an a cappella beat from Gambino, the track starts up with a heavily affected piano rhythm as Gambino comes back in, throwing down verses that are more reminiscent of the voice he used for CAMP than the lower, more mature style brought in on Because the Internet. The track’s vocals, however, are the only thing that really anchor it to CAMP-era Gambino, as the song is incredibly sample-laden like Because the Internet, including the lengthy monologue about money and escaping the streets that closes the track out. The result is a strange blend of the styles the two albums use, making the track almost a literal bridge between CAMP and Because the Internet.

Even lyrically, however, the song has shades of the latter album. Though it starts off with the usual Gambino shtick, with a few pop culture one-liners strewn about, the song quickly delves into serious territory, speaking of absent grandfathers and abandoning a relationship because of fear and anxiety. By the end of the song, Gambino has gone full Because the Internet, and “centipede” as a result becomes a preview for that album. The new Childish Gambino had arrived.

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