Posted by Lindsay Carolla on 11/10 at 02:26 PM
Childish Gambino is a truly unprecedented lyrical genius. He’s better known as Donald Glover, a 28-year-old television star and comedian, but with the release of his first hip-hop album Sick Boi in 2008, it was clear his music career was no joke.
Born in California, but raised in Georgia, Glover is the son of a postal worker and a day care center owner. Glover graduated New York University in 2006 with a degree in Dramatic Writing. There, he joined the Derrick Comedy sketch group. This renowned comedy troupe led him to Tina Fey. The actress discovered Glover after attending one of the group’s performances. Fey recruited Glover as a writer for her television show, 30 Rock, which allowed him to pursue his other passions. Eventually Glover emerged from behind the scenes to starring in Comedy Central specials and then to acting alongside Joel McHale and Chevy Chase in NBC’s television series Community. With writing and acting under his belt, Glover decided to tap into the music industry. His growing success as a music artist today makes him a triple-threat oozing with talent, determination, and charisma.
Glover’s comedic background translates well into his music. In fact, his intelligent sarcasm and clever quips provide Childish Gambino with an unmatched individuality that sets him apart from the pack. He jump-ropes with rap stereotypes and uses his indicative clever wordplay to make his material unique. For instance, Glover raps every song on Sick Boi with a cold. Glover spins the jargon with literalism by mimicking a stuffy nose on each track. Even his stage name is a joke: “Childish Gambino” was the result of a Wu-tang Clan name generator.
At first, Glover’s already established Hollywood fan base was skeptical. Many listened simply out of curiosity. What they discovered, however, was an enjoyable listening experience. Glover’s wit, over equally comical over-hooked, hyper-screwed beats, is innovative and all in all a good time. The positive feedback urged Glover to develop his skill and persona to continue making music. Childish Gambino put out his second album, Poindexter, in 2009, and in 2010 the consecutive mixtapes I am Just a Rapper and I am Just a Rapper 2. His skill sharpened and his motivation developed after these projects met critical acclaim. These projects saw Childish Gambino make a slow but sure move away from the gimmicks that gave him relevancy to a promising future as a legitimate artist. Glover officially secured his reputation in the rap game.
Nowadays, as his musical pursuits are becoming less of a hobby and more of a serious endeavor, Childish Gambino provides Glover with an alter ego in which he can show his personal, tormented artistic side. He has begun to discuss via careful, adroit rhyme personal subject matter including but not limited to issues with troubled relationships, alcoholism, suicide, and various family affairs. A third album, Culdesac dropped on July 3, 2010 after the twin mixtapes. Glover self-produced Culdesac with the help of Community comrade, Ludwig Göransson. The duo used alternative and independent rock melodies to create a “black nerd” aesthetic that Glover is famous for coining. As with all his previous projects, the album was released digitally and complimentary proving Glover’s dedication.
Currently, Childish Gambino is surviving on a heavy cult following. “Freaks and Geeks” and it’s sequential video both became viral after the release of the album EP on March 8, 2011. I predict Glover’s underground triumph is soon to bubble over into mainstream acknowledgement once he releases his promised breakthrough album Camp on November 15. The first single “Bonfire” dropped on September 17 on Funkmaster Flex’s Hot 97 to give fans a taste of what’s to come. Childish Gambino dropped a well-produced full length video for “Bonfire,” appropriately on Halloween. The video features Glover as the ghost of an unfortunate victim of a summer camp prank gone awry. He’s doomed to repeat his death and its discovery for all eternity. Camp will feature 12 additional tracks under the Glassnote Records label hopefully with equally as captivating visuals and lyricism. As of now, no guest appearances have been either rumored or confirmed for the record.
Though Glover uses his fame of other facets to propel his musical ability, there is no denying his talent. His complicated path to finding his voice in the genre carves perhaps a modern accepted niche in the rap genre. Lil’ Kim made it cool for girls to spit, Eminem paved the way for the average white guy, and now Childish Gambino says you don’t have to be a gun-packing coke-dealing gangster to matter. If Marky Mark can make an effective transformation to Oscar-nominated Mark Wahlberg, conversely, Donald Glover certainly deserves a shot at hip-hop.
Author: Lindsay Carolla
Bio: Lindsay Carolla is a senior studying English, and Italian language and literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She is an on-air personality for the Lion 90.7fm on the Jam 91 Show. She finds pleasure in traveling, attending concerts, and literary symbolism. Lindsay has an eclectic taste in music which ranges from her favorite rap artist, Notorious B.I.G., to her favorite indie darling, Modest Mouse. But what she enjoys most is when two unlikely musical genres successfully combine to create a new aesthetic, such as can be found in the band Brokencyde.
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