Dallas is in for a techie treat with upcoming concerts by two of hip-hop's most promising internet by-products: Childish Gambino (March 7 at South Side Ballroom) and Vic Mensa (February 1 at House of Blues). With Gambino's release of Because the Internet and Mensa's full-length solo debut, Innanetape, 2013 introduced the hip-hop world to a pair of new age MCs who were unapologetically influenced by the World Wide Web.
Both artists are genre-benders. They rap, sing, and tell multidimensional stories that shy away from your typical hip-hop narratives. But considering the Internet is a primary device of emphasis in their musical efforts, one question emerges: Who owns the internet?
That's right, you just stepped into a round for round flame war for hip-hop's digital crown. Let's log-in ringside.
Round 1. Best Album Title, a.k.a. Domain Name
When it came down to giving projects an ID, both rappers relied on a simple computer-generated response.
Gambino: In a TIME interview, Gambino pinpoints his album's title to a studio conversation with fellow musician, Beck. In realizing that, because of the internet, our triumphs and mistakes are timelessly accessible, he found an explanation to every one of life's digitized queries, because the internet.
Mensa: In an MTV News interview, Mensa credits the naming of his release to a night of music, tweaking, and needing a friend's wi-fi password, resulting in him jokingly declaring, "I'm the Internet." The musical domain name he finalized on is a stylized mix of the words internet and mixtape, Innanetape.
Winner: Chilidish Gambino. While Mensa's Innanetape title cleanly symbolizes the internet's key influence on how music roams freely on today's computerized backdrop, Gambino's pensively justifies his album's inspiration, substance, and society's future, all in a three word explanation.Round 2. Vocal Range a.k.a. Flow Bandwidth
Gambino: Because the Internet showcases Gambino's ability to flow atop of electro-distorted and ambient samples with a gradually fast-paced trap flow (Migos bite), in addition to his more familiar monotone conversational deliveries to accommodate fragmented monologues.
Mensa: Vic's flow has a mean mega-bite throughout Innanetape because it impulsively switches back and forth from an assembly of deliveries that delve into binary spoken word, rhythmically offbeat Eminem-esque ferocity, and a melodic R&B/ cyberpunk hybrid.
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Winner: Mensa. With a beat manipulating flow that transforms itself multiple times throughout the course of a single verse, let alone a track, Vic's dissimilar deliveries maintain an uninhibited amount of bandwidth.
enjoy the album, don't fight the critics. they make too much money off me already
— Childish Gambino (@DonaldGlover) December 9, 2013
Round 3. Social Media
Gambino: Overlooking the inescapable fact that Chilidish Gambino, the musician, and Donald Glover, the writer/ comedian/ actor/philosopher share a body, undoubtedly a boon to gaining Twitter followers, the guy understands how the web works. From introducing album visuals via Instagram to the Twitter ambush, #RoscoesWetsuit, social media became his primary channel of choice to create buzz, as it has been since Gambino's conception.
Mensa: For an entertainer having just two solo releases under his belt, Vic used social media to frequently stay connected to his emergent fan-base and released a robbery-themed YouTube trailer to announce his mixtape release date. By giving virtual bystanders bonus studio cuts via SoundCloud and music video snippet for his YNSP track, his mixtape's buzz went from dial-up to fiber optic in the matter of a month.
Winner: Gambino is undoubtedly the social media world star in this round. However, Mensa's independent rise to digital notoriety, partially credited to his deep connections to Acid Rap phenom, Chance the Rapper, shows how much of a difference one year can make when you're plugged in to what the people want.
Round 4. Tech Language Usage
Gambino: Approx 38 tech-related references including refrains.
Mensa: Approx 47 tech-related references including refrains.
Winner: Mensa. Even in Gambino's lyrical globe of Net Twerks and GPOY's, the law of numbers doesn't lie. It's important to draw attention to Vic's frequent mash up of his signature "INNANET" ad-lib and "Yung Netscape" secondary pseudonym both boosted his tech tally where he otherwise may have fallen short.>Round 5. Bonus!
Gambino: He wrote a screenplay with disjointed visuals to escort his album, or maybe he recorded an album to accompany his screenplay (depending on who you ask). And just to show how much he understands the grasp the Internet has on life, the screen play was placed on a modestly coded website with the URL: www.becausetheinter.net.
Mensa: Vic stuck with the web theme in everything that related to the project, including psychedelic data-moshed music videos, a kaleidoscope of 8-bit INNANET clothing sales (Free WI-FI), and a Trojan Horse of surprise cameos by MCs Ab-Soul, Rockie Fresh, and Chance, to name a few.
Winner: Gambino. By engulfing his internet-themed album within the lives of identifiable characters, the release became a personal testament to how the internet has created an advanced world of linked-in isolation.
So to answer the question "Who owned the internet?" For a newcomer, Vic Mensa a.k.a. Yung Netscape, put up a good fight while taking some big bytes out of the World Wide Web, but it's safe to say Childish Gambino's innate know-how and reestablished digital presence takes the CPU crown this time.
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To login to what these new age artists have to offer you in real-time, pay them a visit when they stroll through Dallas.
Vic Mensa joins electronic music duo, Disclosure, on Saturday, February 1 at the House of Blues. Childish Gambino will upload his "Deep Web Tour" on Friday, March 7 at the South Side Ballroom.