My first introduction to Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino was July 3, 2015. I remember the exact date because it was my 34th birthday (I know, I’m old). I decided to spend my birthday at Myrtle Beach with my best friend (my mom) and since I missed all the Black Diamonds shows in Columbia, SC that year, I wanted to go to the theatre at Broadway at the Beach and watch Magic Mike XXL. That’s when I saw Donald Glover. He played a stripper named Andre, who wasn’t super buff like the other men but had a cute factor and a very pretty singing voice. He left an impression on me with the way he used his voice and overall swag to make the women around him swoon, plus he reminded me of one of my current favorite TV characters…Jamal from Empire. Little did I know that he had an actual singing career.
Fast forward a year and a half later, I heard “Redbone” on the radio for the first time. I loved the song upon my first listen. Like many others, I thought it was a woman laying down the vocals, but I soon learned that it was Childish Gambino. At first I figured that was the name of a group, but when my nerd senses kicked in and I decided to research the “group,” I found out it was none other than Donald Glover, the slender stripper that made me love the song “Marry You” long before I heard Bruno Mars’s original version.
After discovering who Childish Gambino really was, I gathered more information on him. It turns out that he wasn’t just an actor turned rapper/singer, or vice versa, but he was also a comedian, a director, writer and producer. “Redbone” continued to get heavy airplay on the radio stations, and I eventually uploaded it to my iPod (along with a kickass remix of Tupac’s “Hellrazor” set to the “Redbone” instrumental). As time went by, I heard a few more songs in Childish Gambino’s catalog and enjoyed them. However, I recently came across Watch Mojo’s “Top 10 Childish Gambino Songs” on YouTube while enjoying my morning breakfast, and I found myself drawn to the music. I decided to check out the songs included on the list in their entirety, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Childish Gambino has something that a lot of today’s Hip Hop is lacking: the stellar combination of nice beats, clever lyrics, and a smooth delivery. What’s makes him even cooler is that his songs are musically unorthodox, yet they still manage to captivate the listener. Lyrically, he reminds me a lot of Kanye West before he allowed his confidence to morph into arrogance. With his combined talents of rapping, singing, and acting, he could also be considered a male version of Lauryn Hill. Listening to Gambino’s music took me back to a time when listening to new Hip Hop music was enjoyable and it would leave me with an insatiable thirst for more when the record was finished. It had me thinking: Why wasn’t Childish Gambino more popular?
Childish Gambino has seven mixtapes, two EP’s, three studio albums and a ton of singles. The first mixtape, Sick Boi, was released circa 2008. However, I didn’t know Childish Gambino existed until late 2016, eight years later. I had only just learned who Donald Glover himself was a year and a half earlier. Now, it’s arguable that I never heard of Childish Gambino because I don’t listen to Hip Hop quite as much as I did as a teenager, and don’t keep up with the new school artists as much (and I didn’t watch Community). However, there’s a lot of new school artists that I heard about before I listened to their music—or, if I’m being honest, I heard of them but never listened to their music—such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Kodak Black and Takeshi 6ix9ine (the last two belong in the latter category). Childish Gambino didn’t get half the press coverage the aforementioned men received, and he’s just as talented. I don’t recall Gambino ever really trending on Twitter (not counting the weekly trends for #AtlantaFX), unlike Kendrick and Drake, with the exception of Grammy night. Don’t get me started on that subject. I will say that it’s even clearer to me now why Childish Gambino was nominated for Album of the Year…that doesn’t mean that Bruno didn’t deserve his win, though. I’ll leave it at that. Sadly enough, after finally discovering what a fire MC/singer Childish Gambino truly is, I soon learned that he’s going to retire in the near future.
For this reason, I consider Childish Gambino to be an unsung hero (kind of). Yeah, he’s been around for ages, and I’m late to the party as usual, but it can definitely be said that Gambino doesn’t have the same popularity as Fetty Wap, Lil’ Yachty, Big Sean and a dozen other new school rappers I can name—but I won’t because I don’t have the time and I can’t think of too many others—but he damn well deserves it. Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino, I salute you.
Since we’re on the subject of Donald Glover, did anyone see the “Teddy Perkins” episode of Atlanta this past week? It was creepy and unsettling. I recommend you watch if you haven’t. Dude’s a genius. 😉😉
—Written by Nadiya
So what do y’all think about Childish Gambino? Do you like his music? Do you think he’s an unsung hero (in a way)? Or do you believe he gets the kudos he deserves? Let me know in the comments section!