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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

"3005" is an inner monologue on "real" friendship and love

Through his celebrity lens, Childish Gambino questions the trustworthiness of, frankly, anyone who seems to be a friend in the digital age.

The evening after an exceedingly long work day — think two hours longer than expected; thank goodness I'll be paid accordingly — awakened some pretty deep, existential thoughts within me.

I'm finally grappling with being consumed by the working world, as I really begin to think about my future as I look toward graduating from Cal in around four months' time. For reasons I can understand given my own psyche, one of my first thoughts was about losing touch with innumerable friends as our lives go separate ways. Thankfully, I didn't stay in a dour state for too long, as I remembered some of the pros of living in the digital age. Thanks to our phones being an extension of ourselves, it's infinitely easier to keep up with people for my generation than any before it.

As my thoughts shifted toward phones and social media, and the impact they have on communication and friendships, my mind musically turned toward an album that tackles these modern-day issues: Childish Gambino's 2013 record Because the Internet. It's an album to which I return more often than most in the hip hop sphere, and whenever I do, I always have a really strong reaction to "3005." Maybe it's because it's the poppiest song on the record; maybe it's because I heard it first among the tracks thanks to it being the single; maybe it's because its dive into the meaning of friendship in an age of constant capitalist and materialist distractions. It's likely a mixture of all three each time, with today's listen leading to a particular focus on the third.

When "3005" starts, I'm instantly hooked by frequent Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson's synth work, and I don't let go until his final note plays. There's something so approachable, yet quirky about the tones Göransson uses; they're quite poppy, yet also fresh-sounding if not futuristic. Combined with the title, the synths create a picture of the future and all the uncertainty it brings with it, a theme Donald Glover is keen to investigate in his rap.

Beneath all the puns in Gambino's first verse, one gets the sense that the celebrity lifestyle drains him more than anything, making him feel hollow and lacking any long-term satisfaction. His continued focus on, and fear of, the future despite all the "Young Lavishing" takes away from the short-term enjoyment of life and his successes, despite everything he's accomplished in multiple walks of the entertainment world. What he needs, in the long run, is an anchor: someone steady, just one person who he knows is always going to be loyal and truthful in a world full of deceit. Thankfully, the end of each verse suggests Gambino does have that person, and "[n]o matter what [they] say or what [they] do," he'll stick by them because he understands their value in his hectic life.

The second verse presents greater details on Gambino's fears: that the people around him who appear to be his friends only do so because of his wealth and status. Reveling in someone's successes is one thing, but it's often the case that "when them checks clear, they're not here / 'Cause they don't care." This brutal fact of life seems to be widely understood, but rarely presented through music, so when it is stated it feels quite profound. It's a sobering reminder that the musicians we listen to and idolize are people just like us, and that they value many of the same things we do, including having people on whom they can rely.

With the way Gambino figures the chorus, "3005" can be heard as a love song, but it's a track that as a whole is infinitely more existential than it is romantic. He hopes that the love he feels is real and that it can keep him steady amidst the turbulence and uncertainty of his celebrity life. If it is, he's willing to be with that person forever — the question then remains whether they're truly in it for the love, or if they're in it for the money like the others are. The song makes me think of my own life and how I wonder if people truly care about me, or whether they're only there to talk when it's a positive situation or when they have something to gain. It's a terrible mindset for me to have, but it's one I have trouble shaking, especially as I grow physically apart from my hometown and my childhood friends as adult life takes its toll. Time will tell if any those various social media interactions actually had substance to them... I sure hope they did.


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