It was announced today that Donald Glover’s new single under his stage name Childish Gambino has debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song and the most importantly the video that accompanied it has gotten people talking like few modern tracks really do. Sure, the common criticism is that the song itself isn’t as strong as the video and I’d have to agree there, but its only May and it looks like Donald Glover is going to have one of most successful years in history with so much currently on his plate.
If I told you I was a lifelong fan of Glover’s work I’d be lying. I didn’t watch Community. He also spent a few years writing 30 Rock which I didn’t watch either. While I don’t hate rap I don’t tend to pay much attention to it unless I get an good opinion from someone who has taste that I respect. My younger brother enjoys rap, but he tends to listen to a lot of garbage. So I have yet to listen to his first two Childish Gambino records, but I’m a pretty big fan of his most recent record that came out in 2016 called Awaken, My Love. It served as a large shift into R&B and some classic soul. A genre I appreciate even if I don’t listen to it often. It caught my eye when I heard the second single Redbone which peaked at #12 on the charts (his highest charting single pre-This is America). The record came out just a few months after it was confirmed that Glover would play Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story. A decision that was almost universally praised. His TV show Atlanta also debuted in September of 2016 to wide critical acclaim and it won him Emmy awards for acting and directing. The second season debuted early this year and continued to receive high praise.
He hosted Saturday Night Live two weeks ago and appeared in nearly every sketch. The This is America video premiered on Youtube at some point during the show, and he was also the musical guest on the show where the song was performed live. The video is currently nearing 120 million views on Youtube in about a week and a half of release.
For as well as things have gone in the last year and half it looks like things will only get better in the future. Glover is set to voice Simba in Jon Favreau’s remake of The Lion King next year. He appeared in the small role as Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming last year. Davis is the uncle of another Spider-Man character named Miles Morales and that means more potential for him to appear as the character in the future. His casting as Lando Calrissian obviously leaves the possiblity open for a return for his own spinoff or sequels. I’m sure that this will all occur while he continues to work on Atlanta.
Last year Glover announced that his work as Childish Gambino would end with his next album, meaning he’ll call it quits after just 4 albums. He explained his reasoning by saying that his music career was no longer necessary. “No one likes a third sequel”. If This is America is the single for his last album I’ll have a lot of respect for him because we all know that he’d be bowing out at the peak of his success instead of milking the project for as much money as it’ll make him. Its rare that someone can gain so much recognition in life by only doing what they want to do. Especially in music, because most artists have to sell out to have the success they crave. Donald Glover/Childish Gambino has yet to do that. I’ll probably be following his projects over the next few years just because his name has become so associated with quality over the last few years. When Solo comes out it could be possible that Glover is part of the #1 movie and #1 song at the same time. That’s quite an accomplishment.