The obsession with keeping it real and demonstrating player status overshadowed hip-hop's early wit, but these two artists mark a return to the boasting that made Straight Outta Compton a classic. Childish Gambino, the project of Community star Donald Glover, is long on pop-culture references and swagger. Across his half-dozen albums and mixtapes, he "gets brain like Krang," claims his "mouth is a laxative" and is "on these tracks like indie girls on Amelie." While funny at times, much of it's rather glib. Opener Danny Brown is the real deal. While the Detroit emcee traffics in similar excess, the lingering menace of his songs feels more credible, and the subject matter's more than just empty vanity, exploring suicide, drug abuse and selling out on critically acclaimed second album XXX, released last year as a free download.
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