Biography: “Donald McKinley Glover Jr. (born September 25, 1983) is an American actor, comedian, singer, writer, producer, director, rapper songwriter, and DJ.” (thanks Wikipedia!) While attending NYU, he began filming short videos with fellow comedy writers DC Pierson and Dominic Dierkes under the name DerrickComedy, which gained him enough attention to get hired as a writer on 30 Rock at just 23 years old. From there, he took on a breakout role as Troy Barnes on Community (hilarious) while simultaneously releasing an hourlong standup special called Weirdo (less hilarious but still pretty good) and producing music under the name Childish Gambino. While his star was quickly rising in the acting world with supporting roles in films like The Martian and Magic Mike XXL, he also began to pour more time into his music and largely left comedy behind to release a series of progressively better-received LPs under the Childish Gambino moniker. More recently, he’s headlining festivals like Coachella and this one (after previously playing in 2015 and pulling double duty as Childish Gambino and doing a standup set in 2012) and taking on starring roles in major blockbusters such as playing Simba and Lando Calrissian in the new Lion King and Star Wars movies. Oh yeah, and he’s also intimately involved in writing, acting and directing Atlanta, one of the best shows currently on TV which just wrapped its second season on FX. If that seems like a lot, that’s because it is (and I didn’t even mention just how huge the “This Is America” video was)! The young man keeps quite busy, and regardless of whether the rumors of him retiring the Gambino name are true, there’s little doubt he’ll remain a mainstay on the American entertainment landscape for the foreseeable future.
Major Discography: Though he’s put out a lot of music before his trio of LPs (both under the Gambino name and his defunct DJ alias mcDJ), it won’t be incorporated into his live shows and isn’t really worth your time to investigate unless you’re a superfan (a possible exception could be made for the single “Freaks and Geeks” which is better than most of Camp). Anyway, here’s those aforementioned LPs:
• Camp (2011) – pretty meh
• Because the Internet (2013) – some good and some meh
• “Awaken, My Love!” (2016) – mostly pretty good
In addition, his live set will probably incorporate a few tracks from the Kauai and Summer Pack EPs, as well as several unreleased songs and, of course, the non-album smash hit “This Is America”.
Genre: Hip Hop, R&B
Similar Artists: Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Pusha T, Vince Staples, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, A$AP Rocky (according to Spotify)
Similar Bonnaroo Artists: BROCKHAMPTON, I guess?
For a brief overview of his studio output since 2011, please refer to this hourlong playlist I created! It’s in chronological order of release, and I’m not certain all 15 of these songs still regularly appear in his setlists, but it gives you a good taste of the multiple flavors he takes on (if you only have time for just a few tracks, check out “Sweatpants”, “Sober” and “Redbone”).
I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing him live once. It was at Bonnaroo in 2015, and I caught most of the second half of his performance from fairly deep in the Which field (also had tickets for the Nashville date of his most recent tour but was unable to attend due to the date being rescheduled after his foot injury). Obviously, his sound has evolved a great deal since then, but I recall being impressed particularly with his singing ability and showmanship, and he actually fucking uses a live band! It’s a rap set (and a headlining one at that), so expect increasing levels of rowdiness as you approach the front of the stage (though probably not comparable to someone like Travis Scott or BROCKHAMPTON in terms of wildness). Here’s some footage from Roo 15, Fallon and other recent tours:
• The name “Childish Gambino” was the result of the Wu-Tang Name Generator. Bless his heart, he’s stuck with it through all these years.
• Glover first met his longtime producer, Ludwig Göransson, when the two worked together on Community. Ludwig has gone one to have some success in his own right, most notably for his work on the Black Panther OST (not the Kendrick album, the other one).
• Here’s some examples of Glover’s early humor from DerrickComedy, Community, and the world of stand-up comedy. He also wrote the Funcooker episode from Season 3 of 30 Rock, which is a really good one. Also also, he recently hosted SNL and (even though Kenan does most of the comedic heavy lifting), this pre-taped skit is kinda fun.
• At one point in time, FX had hired Glover to work on an animated Deadpool series for their network, but for some reason pulled the plug on the project. Undeterred, Glover took to Twitter to post screenshots of some scripts already in progress (I’m typically a Deadpool hater but they’re pretty funny!).
• Yet another upcoming project of Glover’s is a mysterious project filmed with Rihanna called Guava Island. It was while filming in Cuba that the two came up with their plan to have Rihanna pull out of Bonnaroo 2019 at the last second to make bonnaroobuff look like a liar and get permabanned.
• The prompt for this portion said “influences”, so I think there’s a lot of early Kanye backpack rap DNA in his early work. Make of that what you will.
My personal thoughts on Gambino probably track pretty closely with the rest of the board, but I’ll do my best to serve up some hot takes here regardless.
• He’s obviously an incredible talent in a variety of different spaces, and this is comparing apples to oranges, but I personally have enjoyed his TV work (Community and Atlanta) more than I have his musical career, but just by a hair. He has a lot of individual songs that I think range from good to excellent, but he hasn’t released any career-defining album one could point to as being “fully realized” just yet… could LP4 prove to be his MBDTF or TPAB? Time will tell.
• It’s worth pointing out he’s gotten progressively better over each of his albums: Camp is full of Lil Wayne-style one liners that largely end up feeling forced, as well as themes that range from a bit tired (being a black man who “acts white”) to the weird and cringey (so many sex jokes about Asian women!). I didn’t dislike it as much as Pitchfork (which infamously gave it a 1.6), but Because the Internet (which has some interesting experimentation on the back half and a few exceptional tracks on the front half while still being hampered by Black Mirror-style musings on technology that generally lack subtlety) was certainly as large step up, as was the funk-infused “Awaken, My Love!”, an album that veered dangerously close to out-and-out ripping off Funkadelic but nonetheless is a solid listen that really could only have been many by someone with the singular ambition and mercurial talent of someone like Glover.
• It honestly still feels a bit weird to see him in what’s essentially the #2 spot… That’s more a commentary on Bonnaroo booking strategy than any compliment or criticism of him as a performer though. There could be a whole lot worse acts to see on the top line.
• I mean, c’mon. You guys all know who he is already. You probably also already know if you like him or not. I’m not here to serve as his evangelist or convert you, but I like him pretty well! Based on how excited my immediate friend group was to see him pop up, I think it’s a pretty good booking.
Yet another upcoming project of Glover’s is a mysterious project filmed with Rihanna called Guava Island. It was while filming in Cuba that the two came up with their plan to have Rihanna pull out of Bonnaroo 2019 at the last second to make bonnaroobuff look like a liar and get permabanned.
Post by Jake Jortles on Jan 16, 2019 7:32:51 GMT -5
I was dissapointed when Insider confirmed him because I agree with your breakdown of his albums. I dont understand how he is more headliner material than someone like Tyler or Asap (other than Danny Glover of course). To go further, Im even confused as to why he's #2 in the top 10 artists thread.
Awaken My Love is dope though and I like the singles from last year so I expect it to be a good show. Just wish it was a second line kind of deal.
Post by Jake Jortles on Jan 19, 2019 11:33:16 GMT -5
Was hoping to get some pushback on my post above in defense of (now) Inforoos #1 most anticipated act. Someone hit me with why he's significantly more anticipated than Brockhampton or Solange. Help me see the light.
Part of my enjoyment of CG is seeing how he's grown as an artist. I started listening to him very early on, with his mixtape Culdesac. This was around 2010-2011. The mixtape was short, full of witty punchlines, and generally just had enjoyable verses to listen to. He pulled me in with lines like these:
"got a n* fucked up like a hangliding whorehouse" "insect ligaments, I'm the bees knees"
Just silly but clever stuff. But he also mixes in a good layer of vulnerability and emotional appeal, which was not nearly as prevalent in rap then as it is now. I LOVE the last song on that album, "The Last". Very raw and inspiring:
"But really what I wanna know is why I never fit in right Like a fat dude getting on a packed flight Even when I make friends in the hallways I'm wishing I was someone else always ... 'Cause I had a high voice, they called me faggot 8 Mile So I stopped writing for a very long time Thinkin' that a n* wasn't made to bust rhymes And this next part, sounds like nonsense But I swear to God, Tina Fey gave me confidence Taught me everything that is good comes from honesty Everybody's got a voice, you just gotta follow it"
His whole style really appealed to me. You could tell that the dude was interested in bringing something real to the table and not just rapping about the stereotypical hiphop BS. This notion gained steam with Camp and BTI - on BTI especially he tried to do something that had a larger vision, but ultimately it didn't connect and I think the critical response to a toll on him. He seemed kinda out of it for awhile, appearing generally unkempt and a little disconnected. He then appeared on Sway and dropped this dope freestyle that I think really highlights his vulnerability and what he was going through.
He was struggling, and it seems like he was wallowing in it a bit. He doesn't stop though, and from there he goes and drops "Awaken! My Love", which I personally think is a great album, and then follows it up with the SOTY in "This is America". He grew as an artist, singer, songwriter, rapper, performer...all while also doing Atlanta. Seeing him finally hit his stride and find his voice as an artist is rewarding to me. I saw him last year, and I went in somewhat skeptical about how he'd be as a headliner, and I was blown away. Even the songs I didn't know I had a great time seeing live. I'm expecting him to drop an album before Coachella, and I'm really looking forward to it.
Post by Nathan Fielder on Jan 19, 2019 12:20:53 GMT -5
^Well said. I haven't listened to Culdesac in a hot minute; maybe I should change that. Regardless, the promise of potential new music plus his stage presence and singing ability have me pretty damn excited for his set. I'd definitely see him over BROCKHAMPTON. Solange would be a really tough call but I did see her more recently so I'd probably pick Gambino there as well