Childish Gambino’s music career stutters on his latest album

Peter O'Neill

Although this is a good album, by Childish Gambino’s own high standards, it falls short.

Many thought that Donald Glover might have retired his rapper alter ego; he instead released an album of R&B similar to his 2016 album “Awaken My Love”.

Rather than continuing down the same path as his smash-hit singles “This Is America” and “Feels Like Summer”, Glover has changed things up with this new album, something that is immediately made evident to fans through the artist’s unusually simple choice of name.

What’s even more curious than the album’s title is the way it was released, with Glover choosing to stream the album in entirety as one track on a website called a week before its scheduled release.

However, this eccentric behaviour isn’t surprising from the musician when you consider the fact that his 2013 album “Because the Internet” was released with a companion screenplay to be read while listening to the album.

While many fans feel that its method release added to the album, others argue that this approach comes across as lazy, as do many other aspects of the album.

Its minimalistic format has been done many times over by other successful artists, one prime example being “Yeezus” by Kanye West. While the songs themselves are strong for the most part, with “Algorhythm” and “24.19” being highlights, Glover’s inclusion of a song that appeared unedited on a previous EP adds to the sense of indolence felt by many fans.

“24.19” is a sweet ode to Glover’s partner, thanking them for everything they’ve done for him. It evokes his last album in both theme and subject matter, with the building melody in the chorus providing one of the stand-out moments of the album.

The album closes with “53.49”, another of the work’s stronger tracks, which sounds more akin to his previous rap releases prior to “Awaken My Love”. The song’s blissful message about living your best life and appreciating things in the moment offers insight into the actor and musician’s  life right now; a relaxed, and happy existence.

“47.48” shares a similar theme, featuring an extract of a conversation between Glover and his child discussing self-love. The song has a heart-warming feel and somewhat provides a sequel to the track “The Night Me and Your Mama Met” that appeared on his last album.

Although many long-term Childish Gambino fans may have been hoping for more rap from Glover after “This is America”, this album showcases a broad range of the artist’s different styles throughout his career, from “Camp”, through to his 2014 EP “Kauai”, to his more recent works.

In light of this reminiscent tone, many fans are speculating that this will be Glover’s last album. Given the success of his acting career, this unfortunately may be the case.

Although his previous projects show that this is not the artist’s best work, with his busy personal and professional lives this is the best album we could expect from Donald Glover today.

Peter O’Neill

Image Credit: John Salangsang/ Invision/ AP/ REX