Odds are you've seen or heard Donald "Childish Gambino" Glover's work in something without even knowing who is he is. From working on "30 Rock" as a writer with Tina Fey, to acting on "Community" as Troy, to having his beats played in Adidas commercials, Glover's music has even made its way into the speakers of the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.
Donald Glover finds time away from acting and writing to produce and rap as his alter ego, Childish Gambino, a name derived from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. He began rapping for fun at New York University and found Childish Gambino a niche in the indie rap market with his latest album, "Camp."
Childish Gambino released his first mix tape, "Sick Boi," in 2008 in conjunction with a mix tape from his other alter ego MC DJ, which involved him remixing popular music. He followed these releases with a series of mix tapes in which he rapped on top of indie music and released free music every few months, allowing him to accrue a fan base. His album "Culdesac" attracted record labels. In March 2011, Childish Gambino released a five-track extended play that coincided with him signing with Glassnote Records.
Despite his background in comedy, Childish Gambino's rap career is serious, and his success on "Community" prompted his chance for getting a record deal. During the past year, Childish Gambino has toured across the U.S. and Europe, and will perform in Richmond on Tuesday, March 20.
Now for the reasons you'll either love or hate him: Lyrically, Childish Gambino is a genius. He cleverly designs word play and injects relevant social references into each of his songs, which differentiates him from other rappers, some of whom seem to hardly put any time into their music (I'm looking at you Waka Flocka). In addition, Childish Gambino was integral in the creation of Waka Flocka). In addition, Childish Gambino was integral in the creation of all of the beats that went on his latest album. Working with Ludwig Goransson, the composer behind "Community's" soundtrack, he was able to feature a variety of different beats that were unique and original on his album "Camp." "Camp" tells a story that is interesting to watch unfold over tracks and is a worthwhile listen.
Aside from the goods, even as a huge fan, there is a downside to the artist. Childish Gambino openly acknowledges his voice can be annoying. It is a mix, he deems, between Lil Wayne and N.E.R.D., and it can be difficult to adjust to on first listen.
His voice, however, doesn't detract from his lyricism. Although his lyrics are creative, a sensitive ear may be surprised by his hyper-sexualized subtext in every song, which can at times be overwhelming. Because of these musical qualities, it is easy to either love or hate Childish Gambino.
If you're looking for a new artist or want to go to a concert after spring break at the National that is sure to be entertaining, Childish Gambino is worth hearing.
Here is a list of his best songs, in my opinion, off various albums, which will offer an idea of the artistic range and give a sense of the artist: "Almost There," "Freaks and Geeks," "Not Going Back," "Sunrise," "Bonfire," "Heartbeat," "Do Ya Like" and "All the Shine"
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