Maybe I should start by saying that I have a pretty eclectic taste of music, however, I almost never listen to rap and/or hip-hop (or much of mainstream pop and other music), but one artist/rapper who contradicts my oath of never listening to rap would be Childish Gambino (Donald Glover). I randomly came across one of this songs which was posted on another blog site that I follow. After listening to the song I thought to myself, “Hmm…Interesting…this guy seems different from most rappers, especially those of whom are mainstream…”
So I hopped over to YouTube and searched for more of his songs. I found myself going from one to the next being more and more impressed as I listened further. The next few hours of that night were spent scouring the internet to find and download any music of his that I could possibly find. Later that weekend I watched the entire first season of the show Community (which Donald co-stars in) and a Derrick Comedy film “Mystery Team“ which he also co-stars in. It is safe to say that this combination of events gave birth to a new fan of Donald Glover and his alias Childish Gambino.
To prevent this post from becoming a rant on how he possibly changed my life or perspective on music, rap, and what it means to be yourself, I will keep things simple by saying that he is now one of my favorite artists. After having followed almost every aspect of his life, from his acting and writing career to his fashion sense and music, and after having met him in person at the end of one of his concerts, I can honestly say without shame that I would consider him someone who I look up to in life. His expressions and ideas on what it means to be a “Black Nerd“, him bridging the gaps and socially constructed confines of hipster, hood, and classy society, his addressing of issues on black and white cultural stereotypes and experiences, and a host of other things have helped me to strip away any fear I may have had on true and free expression of one’s self.
Some of his experiences touched on in his music seemed to paint a picture of my life and the ones that I couldn’t relate to still provided a sense of meaningfulness and understanding. I’ve changed the way that I look at my past, who I see myself as now, and want I want to achieve in the future, and I owe much of that to Donald Glover and his music and acting.
[Childish Gambino – CAMP – In-Studio]
I always love seeing behind the scenes footage of musicians, actors, and artists as it gives a more appreciated and deeper sense of meaning to their work (whilst giving you a one-up on fun facts). Ever since Michael Jackson’s “The Making of Thriller“, I have forever cherished behind the scenes footage.
Being the true fan that I am, I bought both a hard and digital copy of his album “CAMP“ on the day of release and have been bumping to it for weeks. His word play, wide array of references, and articulate story telling had me shaking my head in awe at how good the album was. Listening to an artist sing or rap about things that you can directly relate to always brings about a greater connection to the music and that artist themselves, and I always get that feeling when rotating through a playlist of Gambino’s songs on my iPod.
References to Black girls with natural hair on Tumblr, Hipsters in Brooklyn, and childhood summer camp crushes paint a vivid picture of his life and the lives of those who can relate to things as such through similar experiences. And when stopping to think about the whole idea of connecting with an audiences, it makes me wonder how artists who rap or sing about things that people cannot relate to gain so much stardom. Never the less, I look forward to seeing him grow as an artist and also seeing how I grow as an individual from what I have taken from him.
Donald has over the past few years begun to build a buzz and huge fan base following whilst also getting critics rolling with less then stellar reviews on his work. He was featured in a Mostly Junkfood Article, took part in the Gap Want Ad Campaign, did a 4 part video interview with Hardknock TV and hosted the 2011 mtvU Woodie Awards.
[Best of Hard Knock TV: Childish Gambino]
If interested, you can check out more stuff related to Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) on his website IAMDONALD.com.