Ever since he first shared a snippet of video of Trinidad James and Chance the Rapper playing Connect Four earlier this year, Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino, has rounded out his music with a steady series of offbeat projects and promotional tactics that seem to all be getting at a great big something behind whatever it is he's up to.
For months, he's been tweeting about "Roscoe's Wetsuit," a nebulous, Pynchonesque phrase that seems to mean something but isn't really tied to anything. There was the surreal, very Arty "clapping for the wrong reasons," a 24-minute movie that played out like a film student's dream project and incorporated that Connect Four scene. He made one of year's cleverest lyric videos for "3005," using a webcam chat with adult film star Abella Anderson.
It only makes sense that there would be more to his new album Because The Internet than just a humble iTunes stream. And sure enough, there is. In fact, there's 75 pages of something, in the form of a screenplay designed to sync to the music.
The screenplay, which Gambino shared tonight on the website becausetheinter.net, is presented as the companion piece to "clapping for the wrong reasons," and it strikes a similarly surreal tone. The central character, "The Boy," lives in a mansion and spends his days tweeting at celebrities and posting videos to WorldStarHipHop. His dad is played by Rick Ross. One of his friends is played by Chance the Rapper. His relationships are hard to follow. Everywhere he goes, he sees the words "Roscoe's Wetsuit." Eventually, he's forced to take up selling drugs to make ends meet.
The screenplay, which is light on dialogue and involves stage directions that are written out Internet-speak and emojis, is hard to follow and probably will raise more questions than it answers. Several of the scenes are accompanied by short, silent clips of the film, and songs from the album are included to be played as the story unfolds. The text sounds like this:
The Boy speeds through the empty highway. It's really pretty. I'm not sure what those factories are in the middle of nowhere with all the lights on them. They're probably horrible for the earth, but they look really magical at night. He passes one of those factories.
There's a lot of rolling hills. Lotta farms. There's a slaughterhouse. Smells and looks grey and awful. All the cows look really sad. Maybe I'm just making them sad. Maybe they're fine.
Looking at the rows of crops criss-cross on farms as they pass.
There's a billboard. It says: ROSCOE'S WETSUIT
The Boy stares at it. Just a white billboard with "roscoe's wetsuit" on it.
THE BOYI know we agreed that it's dumb to ask since we're all headed that way anyway, but-ALYSSABrain cancer. It was bad.Silence.ALYSSA (CONT'D)So crazy.She LOLs. They're still walking this entire time. They stop at the water. They stand there making small clouds for a moment.
What is the meaning of this? What is Roscoe's Wetsuit? Who is the boy? What is the Internet? These are all questions worth asking, and ones that this screenplay won't answer.
It's definitely weird. And it's oddly engaging, even though the story seems to float rather than ever really going anywhere. But it does add a new dimension to Because the Internet, and it's a creative way of presenting the music. Check out the full screenplay here.