Donald Glover as Childish Gambino

4 mins read

Hip-hop music developed through street culture in New York in the late 1960’s emerging from a rhythm once highly electronic in nature. Vocal hip-hop artists accompany rhythm with an commentary on social issues in rap. What makes a dense powerful rap is the combination of stylistic factors that create social awareness and introspection on identity, culture and social phenomena.

Donald Glover, the man behind the hip-hop act Childish Gambino, has had extensive career experience in the arts, ranging from being a screen writer on the hit sitcom “30 Rock,” to performing as an actor on screen in NBC’s television series “Community.”
(Courtesy of mamapop.com)

For comedy fans and Hulu.com addicts, Donald McKinley Glover is best known as a comedian who played Troy Barnes on the NBCcomedy series Community and past writer for NBC series 30 Rock (2008-2009) and The Daily Show (2005). In 2008, he began his music career as a rapper called Childish Gambino, an alias he adopted from the Wu-Tang Clan name generator.

Despite his expertise in comedy, his music endeavor is no joke. Since then, he has released three albums and a pair for mixed tapes all free online. As part of the IAMDONALD tour of 23 stops which spanned 33 days in April and May of this year, his shows in Bowery Ballroom and Williamsburg in New York sold out in three hours after the tickets were released. He plans to release his fourth album entitled Camp on November 15th, but leaked a bootleg version of it on his website.

He’s gaining a wider audience and already has a strong fan base. His bootleg release can be played as a publicity stunt, but considering the content of his lyrical creativity perhaps this move is just a statement on the increasing influence of pirate industry that feeds on media and entertainment. Maybe he decided to take the reigns on the inevitable. Meanwhile, his official website can gain more clicks. Smart.

Both as a songwriter and performer, Glover’s style is versatile and unique. Bill Jensen from the Village Voice calls his work “hardcore, dirty-mouth stand-up, and even dirtier emo-rap”, but just listen to Camp on NPR music and pay attention to the liminal allegories cleverly worded into obscure comedic anger. Behind the rage, frustration, self-confidence and explicit language that makes his work seem “dirty” or “emotional” is a introspective and somewhat satirical realization of his placement in society. His commentary explicitly reveals a personal view on manhood, displacement, rejection and tragedy. The dense social themes within the content of his work evokes tension in a way that portrays his writing and rhythmic poetry as an instrument for satirical remarks on dynamics of social consciousness.



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