A critically acclaimed TV show, a blockbuster movie headed to theaters, a number one single on the charts, and a whole lot of charisma; Donald Glover, or Childish Gambino for the newly acquainted, is having the greatest year of his career. The 34-year-old creator from Stone Mountain, Georgia is just about becoming a household name in 2018, albeit a white one, but a household name nonetheless.
The current peak of this, of course, is his latest single "This is America." A vivid exploration of the current U.S. climate that damn near every major publication, blog, media outlet, and radio station has tried to analyze over the past two weeks since its release. And if you still need to be spoon-fed over all the things you missed in the video, you can continue reading about it here. The remainder of this article will be reserved for what America isn't currently talking about, what is the next move for Childish Gambino?
One potential answer to that question, an album. An album, however, would be an understatement. After the release of 2016's "Awaken, My Love!" and its subsequent tour Gambino went on to state at during one of his performances at the Governor's Ball, "I'll see you for the last Gambino album." He doubled down on these comments in an interview stating that he feels his music persona was no longer "necessary" to keep intact. So with all of that being said an album has become the album, the last one. While that news will leave some fans in a state of dismay, his recent releases ensure that he has absolutely no intention of letting anyone down.
For one, Glover is very cognizant of the world around him. This is obviously evidenced by "This Is America" and its existence as a deep dive into America society, but also in his previous works. His 2013 album, appropriately titled "Because the Internet" is filled with cultural references implanted for those of millennial status. The same can be said for his FX show "Atlanta", or even his Twitter script from the animated "Deadpool" series that never was. Despite his lack of activity on social media (that we know of), Donald Glover is not blind to the digital world.
Through that same digital world, one would assume Gambino sees criticisms of his ventures. It's not a secret that many OG Childish Gambino fans had an indifferent reaction to his last album, despite it producing one of his greatest commercial hits in "Redbone." Fans that expected another hip-hop album were presented with a fresh funk-rock experiment. Whether Gambino incorporates fan reactions into his penultimate album or continues to rock the boat is pretty much up in the air. If his Saturday Night Live Jekyll-and-Hyde-act has any indication, however, we might see a similar project to that of his last two mixtapes.
A big part of Gambino's SNL venture that isn't getting much attention as opposed to his current number one single was the premiere of another single, "Saturday." An upbeat funk record, "Saturday" seems to be more consistent with the theme of Gambino's last record, as well as his previous (2014) Kauai EP. Where "This is America" parley's into the realm of modern hip-hop and American society, "Saturday" calls for the listeners to groove with good feelings. This duality is reminiscent of what is presented with Glover's STN MTN and Kauai projects. From Atlanta street rap on STN MTN to the calm paradise that is presented in Kauai, Gambino fuses the two and creates harmony. Each project acts as a complement to the other. The best of both worlds.
For the final outing of the Childish Gambino moniker, the best of both worlds may be the perfect storm for fans. Glover's existence on various stages and creative platforms has led him to cull support from a fanbase just as diverse as his ventures. He is also no stranger to duality having led this double stage life for quite some time. If Glover can replicate the cohesiveness of a self-polarizing project like that of STN MTN/Kauai, combining the societal conscious of "This is America" with suavity and smoothness of "Saturday", then Donald Glover...errr Childish Gambino may find himself at the top of the mountain, Stone Mountain that is.