Playing Around Before the Workday Starts- Gambino & MetroNorth Musings

This morning, one of those “frat boy done grown up” types sat near me on my train into work. Desperate to block out the voice I was sure could only be at home in a Greek house*, I grabbed my headphones in hopes of being able to nap or read my book. I searched for an instrumental piece, as Taylor Swift, Dawes, and Childish Gambino would all be too distracting to read to. Ironically, the few tracks sans lyrics were on Gambino’s last studio album, his loved/hated, somewhat confusing “Because the Internet.”

I can’t say I “get” this album. I definitely had no idea what he was trying to do with it before I saw the Deep Web Tour. And after that I could only conclude, upon conversations with my best friend and brother, “This album was his experiment, his baby. It’s probably brilliant. Probably.” I do enjoy it, though it is distinctly missing his normal sharp tongued, quick witted genius, laced with non-committed anger.

But I digress. Whatever my willy-nilly opinion on Because the Internet, it really came through for me this morning, with one song on repeat. For once, I appreciated when an album randomly has 30 second instrumental interludes. I am not a music connoisseur; the “feel” of a whole album other than the wonderful happy angst of Avril Lavigne’s first album, has generally escaped me. This particular 54 second track is called “Playing Around Before the Party Starts,” which falls right before “I. The Party”…. ha ha.

“Playing Around Before the Party Starts” is delightfully calm yet anxious. I can only describe it, in my humble opinion, as soft staccato. Yes, I just made that up. In trying to understand what his “point” was, I thought about that feeling before an event starts. The track is mostly just notes, with some background noise of people chatting and a few glasses clinking. It does indeed feel like that moment when a few people are waiting for guests to arrive. That feeling of “okay everything is ready, I can breathe,” paired with “where is everyone, what time is it, is it time yet???”

According to

Voices can be heard coming in and out during the composition. Given the song’s title, this presents the image of an isolated Gambino; sitting alone and“playing around” the piano while his guests party around him before the party begins. As they do this they’re probably watching ‘Bino out of the corner of their eyes.

Derp, I didn’t even think of it having anything to do with the piano. DID I EVEN NOTICE THAT IT WAS PIANO MUSIC? I am quite oblivious and unobservant. Anyway. Oh Gambino, you lonely, beautiful, complex mind, you.

And have you ever tried walking through Grand Central listening to this song over and over and over? Or standing on subway platforms, or on a packed 4 train downtown? That’s what I did today. It adds a strange mellow to the hectic city, but is still energizing enough to start the day. I may be making all of this up.

Thank you for reading my rambling stream of consciousness on a non-rap track from my favorite rapper. I don’t even listen to rap anymore. And every opinion I have on the DNA of a piece of music is most likely ludicrous.

Sabs out. Have a fantastic weekend.

*Excuse the stereotype, please allow me some humor in this oft too serious world.


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