Childish Gambino at House of Blues, 3/8/2014
We used to adore cops and cowboys; now we love scientists and engineers. We used to want to be John Wayne, but now we'd prefer to be Mark Zuckerberg. It was only so long before our computerized generation of tech-savvy youngsters would start to look up to people similar to themselves. Slipping away are the days of the over-glorification of the rough and tumbling, five o'clock-shadowed, gun-toting tough guy image. We now have new heroes in our lives, and they are far from what has been the norm in popular culture over the course of history.
In all aspects of life, the hipster-ization and nerd-ification of America has a firm grasp on popular culture, and while it's quite noticeable in television and film, the biggest impact has been on the world of music. And throughout the different genres, the subject matter changing with the times has been clearest in hip-hop.
The youth of today doesn't want to hear about sipping on some sizzurp or pulling out their 9's -- they'd much rather hear about html coding or shoe design. Gangsta rap has all but seen its last days, as newer and younger rappers like Childish Gambino -- who performed before a sold-out House of Blues Saturday night -- have stepped back from the grime and grit and started to talk about real-life happenings surrounding youth culture.
Now, because of that and the popularization of television shows and movies like The Big Bang Theory and The Social Network, it's hip to be both intelligent and cool. With rappers like Kanye, Outkast, Pharrell and Common bringing hipster fashion to their everyday life, it's inspired a whole new realm of artists that have given up that hardcore tag and would rather be personified as talented, fashionable and smart. Thick-rimmed glasses and polo's have overtaken baggy jeans and bandannas. Gats, whips and pagers have become MacBook's, Prius' and iPhones.
Childish Gambino is at the forefront of this new wave of rappers with a conscience. Known at birth as Donald Glover, he's as talented as they come, which he's already proved in his young career with cleverly chosen acting spots on the hit TV shows Community and Girls. Now, though, with his focus removed from acting, his music career is moving forward even quicker than his time as a thespian.
Saturday night proved that -- it was well sold out. And it wasn't your typical hip-hop audience. House of Blues' will-call wizardess said it was "kind of a weird crowd," and she was right. I definitely felt old walking into the venue, a feeling that never subsided. Even the bars were next to empty because most of the crowd wasn't legally allowed to belly up.
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