by Zaria Sims for Urban Mindz
Donald Glover, the renaissance man of today’s artistic culture, is the most versatile content creator to emerge in the past decade. He is the jack of all trades within the entertainment industry – a comedian, writer, rapper, singer, and actor. Glover’s eclectic, non-conformist orientation propelled his career into a series of major successful projects that have put him in the league towards becoming the most resourceful and artistic genius of our time.
Over the past decade, we have watched Glover navigate his way through every form of pop culture media while still maintaining his cultural values and unique awareness of self. Donald Glover’s successful music career, under the stage name ‘Childish Gambino’, was the unintended plot twist of his life as regards to his writing career. His rap moniker came about from his use of a Wu-Tang Clan online name generator at a party, and the rapper expressed he would have never used ‘Childish Gambino’ had he known how popular his music would become. With over 1.2 billion views combined on YouTube for his most notable hits: ‘This is America’ (609 million) , ‘Redbone’ (347 million), ‘3005’ (165 million), and ‘Feels Like Summer’ (156 million), it is an understatement to say that he is simply an artist.
Additionally, Adidas Original x Donald Glover officially launched ‘Donald Glover Presents’ as a partnership in April 2019. As a visual storyteller who seeks to tell a story in everything he does, Glover intentionally created a purpose and meaning for each design, emphasized by their creative colors, patterns, styles, and details. Along with his merch, Donald debuted a series of short films to accompany his tailor-made products.
Moreover, Glover has built an impressive career as a film writer and actor. His most illustrious piece of work comes from his role as Simba in the 2019 live remake of ‘Lion King’. Glover coincides on the acclaimed cast along with James Earl Jones, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, and Alfre Woodard. Unfortunately, Donald’s role in Lion King has subjected him to various highs and lows mixed with bouts of pressure. His father passed away on the release day of Lion King’s official trailer, which placed an unintended damper on all of his achieved success. In a sense, Glover used his grief as the means to bring even more emotional depth to the movie. Although Lion King was finished, recorded, and filmed, Glover felt it urgent to redeliver a few of his character lines. The symbolic death of his father insightfully led to a new perspective and relationship with his character, Simba.
In 2009, Glover began building his career as an actor on NBC’s sitcom Community. His role as Troy Barnes, a reformed athlete jock who abandoned his tough-guy exterior to embrace his more innate, nerdy and empathetic identity, is an indication of the truest nature of Donald Glover’s progression. As evidence of the latter, on The Hollywood Reporter’s: A Conversation on Creativity panel, alongside Jon Favreau, Issa Rae, Damien Chazelle, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and himself, the musical artist made strong statements towards his identity stating, “Nerdy is just liking stuff that takes work to like…I hate labels.” Before Community, Glover was a young writer on Tina Fey’s 30 Rock sitcom, which helped him build an identity as a professional writer. However, he had always yearned to tell his own stories.
Stephen Glover, Donald Glover’s brother, has played a monumental role in helping his vision come to light. Together, the brothers created the short musical film, ‘Guava Island’, starring Donald Glover and Rihanna, and the television show Atlanta. The Golden Globe and Emmy-winning series, Atlanta, explores rap music, urban culture, and the struggle to make ends meet in Atlanta, Georgia. As they are currently recording Season 3 of Atlanta, which is set to be released spring 2020, now is the best time to binge-watch Seasons 1 & 2. Following two cousins, a rapper and his manager, Atlanta emphasizes a non-glorified, practical, down-to-earth, portrait of the way many black people live.
Although Donald Glover has made progressive headway as an artist, he will no longer be representing himself as ‘Childish Gambino.’ The Childish Gambino moniker was a sensation, an experience, a character, and a unique statement of time that will age infinitely, but all good things must somehow come to an end. Last year, Childish Gambino canceled his show at the ACL Music Festival due to a serious injury, but this year, he ended his tour at that same festival by bidding his goodbyes to his alter ego. On stage at ACL, he told his fans this would be his last show, adding that he and his crew had been on the road for two years. While it is true that we may never see nor hear another song or watch another performance by Childish Gambino, this only signifies the evolution of Donald Glover furthermore.