He's also the kind of person to just 'do'. Thus out of nowhere Glover brings us 3.15.20, an unsurprisingly genuinely sensational work of art from an artist who just won't quit. His last full-length, Awaken My Love!, was a masterpiece - there's no two ways about it. Combining fiery P-Funk with lusty soul and dazzling psychedelia to seductive effect, it won plaudits all over the globe.
After the brilliant throwback masterpiece "Awaken, My Love!" and the moment-defining "This Is America," Donald Glover could have traded in his critical and cultural cachet for cash by shooting for the mainstream and cranking out more tracks guaranteed to follow in those giant footsteps. Luckily, for anyone who likes their pop stars weird and wild, the 2020 Childish Gambino record 3.15.20 is an expansive, mind-bending trip that never takes an expected step. Over a two-year span, Glover and a team that included DJ Dahi and long-time collaborator Ludwig Göransson tweaked the songs as they experimented with sound and structure.
In the same vein as his explosive 2018 single, "This Is America," Childish Gambino continues to contemplate the state of the world on 3.15.20. His latest effort is obscure and experimental, combining the uptempo, pop-leaning feel of Gambino's earlier albums with the withering social commentary of his most recent work. The album is dotted with unintelligible moments, like the intro, "0.00," and the murky "32.22," on which Gambino tries a bit too hard to be mysterious and highbrow. But although the sounds on the album don't always quite fit together, 3.15.20 has plenty of peak moments to spare..
Childish Gambino surprised us a few weeks ago with 3.15.20, a 12-track project he released, pulled from his website, and re-released a week later. The resurfaced version of the album had almost all of the titles stripped from the tracklist in favor of timestamps, apparently to encourage the listener to consume the record in its entirety. This is a shame, as reference points for 3.15.20's highs would have been valuable.
About 40 minutes into his new album, Donald Glover asks a simple question: "Where are those subtle men?" At times, he's totally unqualified to answer. The record's first full song, which I swear is called "Algorhythm," opens with an industrial groan, as Glover growls: "So very scary, so binary/Zero or one/Like or dislike, coal mine canary/I dream in color, not black and white." It's all very the regional manager just watched Blade Runner and wants to talk about it. But a few bars after that passage, "Algorhythm" opens up into its hook--bright, free, danceable in spite of itself.
I n hindsight, music has always been Donald Glover's true calling. Before the sitcoms, the Star Wars movie, the Saturday Night Live hosting gigs, and the well-worn gifs of the performer walking horrified into a burning room with a stack of pizza boxes, you could find him on YouTube as a member of Derrick Comedy. The group's greatest sketch, B-Boy Stance, saw Glover play an ageing hip-hop pioneer who had his arms surgically attached to his back, ensuring he was forever pulling the iconic pose - it riffs on the distance between the New York acolytes who witnessed the birth of hip-hop and those who came to the music after it was commodified.
The Lowdown: We, as a people, are living beneath a cloud of uncertainty, and at this moment, the future is in question. Some of the trivial things in life don't seem as important as they did a week ago, and we continue to place further space between each other in an already socially distant culture. For some reason, music has always been a catalyst in bringing people back together, and that statement still holds true today.