Mixtape Review: STN MTN / KAUAI | Childish Gambino


After my disappointment with STN MTN, I’m glad to say that Kauai is actually very good. This EP actually seems like the next logical progression after Because the Internet.

First and foremost though, this is not necessarily a rap project. This is very much an R&B album in the vein of Michael Jackson or Justin Timberlake, with a little bit of rap thrown in there too. It’s just a very enjoyable listen featuring some really great production, especially the synth work which feels very nostalgic considering the flow of some of the beats but at the same time very modern,  and an expansion of Gambino’s singing which we saw on a few songs on Because the Internet (“III. Telegraph Ave.” or “I. Pink Toes”).  The best example of this is the opening track, “Sober.” The snyths seem to come straight out of an acid techno record from the 80s or 90s, and the bass drop towards the end of the track comes straight out of a modern electronic music song. I haven’t even added the lush guitar chords heard in the background. Gambino’s singing is also fantastic on the track, it’s definitely something I could see Michael Jackson doing in the Thriller era of his career.

However, the EP isn’t completely perfect. The main problem lies in the features. Now, there are only two (three if we count the un-credited feature from Fam, another member of Gambino’s posse). These two being Steve G Lover, Gambino’s brother who just sounds like another wannabee Chance the Rapper, very similar to R O Y A L T Y on STN MTN, and Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith. On this EP, he takes over the role of “The Boy” for Gambino who was this character on Because the Internet. This is sort of confusing as well as there isn’t much of a story on this EP. From what I can evaluate, it’s The Boy entailing being in love while on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Back to Jaden Smith though, who’s not actually bad on this EP. In fact he fits the role of The Boy really well considering how similar he is to the character in real life. The problem is with the un-credited feature from Fam, who goes on a random tangent for nearly a minute and a half. You know what it sounds like?

It sounds like this meme. Take almost any sentence he says in this song and put it in this tweet. Works perfectly.

Besides those problems, this EP is pretty good. The singing/rapping is very nice and the production is fun and catchy. There’s not much to say that this is definitely worth a listen, but not STN MTN. Luckily you can get both of these separately with STN MTN being released as a mixtape which you can download here and Kauai being up for purchase on iTunes and up for streaming on Spotify. All the proceeds of the EP are supposedly going to cleaning up the actual Kauai, Hawaii and towards enforcing new policies for police officers, including wearing cameras at all times.

Favorite tracks: “Sober,” “Pop Thieves (Make It Feel Good),” “The Palisades”

Least favorite tracks: “Poke”




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