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CHILDISH GAMBINO’S NEW WORLD SOUNDS

Donald Glover walked the streets of lower Manhattan looking like a deleted scene from Saturday Night Fever over the weekend, on his way to preview his final Childish Gambino album, Bando Stone and the New World (RCA), for fans at the outdoor venue Little Island. A cameraman tracked his movements through the meatpacking district, beaming transmission onto the stage’s stylized backdrop made of chain links as an audience of nearly 700 watched and waited in sweltering heat. Decked out in a yellow Hawaiian shirt, shorts and a white snapback ornamented with his Gilga Radio logo, Glover strolled over the Hudson River on wooden gangplanks to host what he billed as "an exclusive interactive experience."

After stepping to a control board at the center of the amphitheater, he called up a barrage of EDM-flavored beats. Promoted as the soundtrack to an upcoming film (which Glover directed and in which he stars), Bando Stone and the New World, coming 7/19, ranges from ’90s electronic dance music to hip-hop to emo. Glover said he'd discovered that the earliest Jamaican dub songs were created with a single synthesizer due to the scarcity of keyboards on the island in the late '60s, and that he replicated the same technique on much of Bando Stone. Then he played the album.

Guitar in hand, labelmate Steve Lacy strummed from his first-row seat to assist on “Sex Beach” with singer Foushée. Though the two were the only Bando Stone guests in attendance, the listening session revealed that Chlöe Bailey, Amaarae, Kamasi Washington, Flo Milli and Jorja Smith also appear on the album.

A technical glitch with the audio system’s sub speakers affected playback of the bass-heavy “Talk My Shit,” to the degree that Glover restarted the song (which features a fire Flo Milli verse). A dry-ice fog seeped through the intimate space as he disappeared and reappeared in the cloud, sometimes singing along to tracks like the Yeezusesque “Place Where Love Goes,” sometimes not. Another song, “Cruisin’,” was written in 2014 and cemented into its present version with the recent addition of rapper Yeat.

Unlike on his Grammy-nominated “Awaken, My Love!," Glover makes a return to emceeing on Bando Stone. After asking the assembled if they wanted to hear something intense or laid back (the crowd chose intense), he previewed the dubstep headbanger “Got To Be.” Foushée made a second appearance on “Running Around,” brandishing a sound close to the emo pop-rock of the Max Martin-produced Bando single “Lithonia.” The maestro directed everyone to his @donaldglover X account (“u may want to smoke”) as he cued up the breezy “No Excuses” before closing the 75-minute set with a “Lithonia” finale.

Somewhere on Bando Stone and the New World, Glover braggadociously anoints himself “the new Spike Lee,” and his latest record is, in fact, the soundtrack to his film directorial debut. In a trailer featuring “a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world filled with giant squids and menacing emu-like birds” (per Variety), Glover discovers a woman (Jessica Allain) and her son in some population-free zone, then embarks on a survivalist action adventure à la Jurassic Park. If nothing else, the sounds are spot on.

Photo: Emilio Madrid

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