Childish Gambino, referred to outside of music as Donald Glover, has seen huge success in his career this year. The multitalented performer first found fame not as a musician but as an actor and comedian, notably starring in sitcoms 30 Rock and Community. More recently, Glover has hugely expanded his creative horizons, creating and starring in Atlanta, a loosely biographical series which follows the upward journeys of two cousins in the Atlanta rap scene (Glover’s never-forgotten roots), and recently being cast as young Lando Carlissian in the 2018 Star Wars Han Solo spinoff.
Alongside his huge strides in film and TV, behind the scenes Glover has quietly been advancing his musical career as Childish Gambino. His last release came two years ago in the form of EP Kauai and accompanying mixtape STN MTN, both of which marked a shift from pretty consistent rap in 2013 LP Because the Internet and debut Camp. Instead, these more recent releases saw Glover demonstrating his talent as a singer with streamlined, melodic, well-rounded tracks, showing off his remarkable versatility.
This versatility promises to be made ever clearer in the upcoming Childish Gambino album “Awaken, My Love!”. Set to release officially on December 2, Glover released the full tracklist after premiering opening track “Me and Your Mama”, who’s gospel rock intones and are a far cry from his older sound. On November 17 “Redbone” became the second track released from the album, a mellow, meandering tune which is a sure promise of a delightfully funkadelic album to follow, yet another facet to Glover’s well rounded musical skill.
The marriage of the two aspects of his career has never been more obvious than in his most recent TV feature Atlanta. Episode 9, “Juneteeth”, saw the appearance of the artwork from “Awaken, My Love!” appear displayed on a mantle. Meanwhile, amidst the throes of hype for the upcoming album, Glover’s Atlanta has already been renewed for a second season.
Childish Gambino’s teasers ahead of the new album are evidence for a consistently evolving and reforming sound, one to match his constant exploration and experimentation in multimedia releases (c.f. the screenplay he released alongside Because the Internet, and the 2014 EP with sister mixtape) and obviously diverse talent.
As an actor, comedian, screenwriter, rapper, and musician, the evolution of Donald Glover’s career is intriguing to watch, and though he’s been met with poor reviews at times, he can’t be faulted for his commitment to his roots and his continual artistic growth.
Listen to "Redbone" from the upcoming album, and watch Atlanta trailer below: