Singers and actors often have a knack of switching places. Be in Mariah Carey doing a turn on screen or Zooey Deschanel releasing albums, the two fields often have a habit or weaving together.
The case couldn’t be more apparent with the world of hip-hop. Ice Cube, Ice T, Will Smith and Mark Wahlberg have all gone from spiting rhymes to learning lines. Donald Glover though has gone the opposite way, coming all the way from comedy to become Childish Gambino, possibly urban music’s fastest rising star.
Starting as a writer on The Daily Show and 30 Rock, Glover started to experiment with rap back in 2008. Taking his name of an online Wu-Tang Clan name generator, Glover became Childish Gambino, and has been releasing mix tapes ever since, gaining a massive internet following thanks to his starring role in cult sitcom Community.
His debut Camp is an absolute wonder, singly showcasing a confidence and pomp like Kanye’s yet an occasional meekness that West wouldn’t even consider. Take All The Shine for example, is both massive, sweeping strings and introspective, self-analysing lyrics.
The comparisons to Kanye are pretty easy, with both possessing an almost unbalanced level of production of their albums. Featuring cutting edge and hyper trendy electro beats to accompany big orchestral motions; Camp is at points nearly as inventive and captivating as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Nearly.
That Power is also another incredibly inventive track, with most of the track simply being Glover re-telling a story from his past. It’s wonderfully honest and serves as a truly unusual end to a spectacular album.
That Gambino’s not stopped there is the real story. Now with the critical and commercial success of Camp, Glover’s ability to pull in guests is much bigger. Not only that, but Glover’s work ethic is unmatched. Just over seven months after releasing Camp, a new, massive mix tape Royalty became available from Glovers website. For free. No strings attached.
Featuring Ghost Faced Killa, Beck and, err, Tina Fey, Royalty is once again a massive statement of intent from Childish Gambino. With Leona Lewis having just got him in to work on her latest track, Glover’s quickly becoming one of the most in demand rappers out there.
Who can blame his collaborators though? Personal, pop-culture infused lyrics mixed with electro production and geniusly distributed online, get ready to hear a lot more from Childish Gambino in the very near future.
That this is all while Glover’s writing and performing stand up, still acting in Community is truly astonishing. Childish Gambino’s just one part of Donald Glover’s potential media empire.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith