Actor, comedian, rapper, singer, your babysitter, Uncle Donald that isn’t really your uncle but your dad met him at the pub a few times and he’s always friendly to be around although he always smells of beer after saying he’s ‘putting the brakes on for a bit’, has released a new album twice! Not in the multi-chapter format via Foals, but releasing the same album, one with track titles and the ‘official release’ without. But there is more to it.
As of 4am on Sunday (March 15th), Donald Glover dropped his Wu-Tang Clan alias and unreleased tracks onto the website donaldgloverpresents.com, circulated by pals of Donald and the lot in his management on social media platforms, creating a commentary of ‘was this deliberate? Is there some sort of hacker witchcraft going on here? Are we losing our collective minds?’.
Reddit was ablaze! Twitter was on fire! People were going crazy, making love to each other, helicopters were falling out of the sky, cats and dogs started living together, all of the music outlets were running around their offices knocking over desk chairs and laptops in a flurry of panic, However, 12 hours after the stream started…it ended. Fans of different timezones woke up to news that they’d slept through an entire Childish Gambino event. Posters were torn off walls, the total amount of Community boxsets saw an increase on eBay, there were petitions to take Solo off Disney+. RCA Records were clamping down on those that recorded it, the label execs patrolling the Google Drives and locking up the links in an Orwellian manner. This was just no good for fans around the world. It was the end of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it enigmatic event.
22nd of March however, brought us something new. A glimmer of hope in this dark Donald Glover-less landscape. An album was released! For real this time! On all streaming platforms, forever! Titled 3.15.20, with all but two track titles named after their timestamps, it turns out that this album was worth the mysterious gymnastics, as this may just be the greatest thing Glover has ever created, if not one of the finest pieces of art of the last decade.
What is showcased is an artist showing that they’re uncomfortable with being at their peak, uneasy at feeling like they’re at their best, and completely ascending that by stepping out of the box and seeing what else they can be the best at, topping other aspects of different genres, to then bring them all together and see what they can create with the skills they’ve accumulated, and this drives home different genres you never knew you needed or never had a clue existed, rhythmic electronica, industrial hip-hop, with a familiar yet comfortable funk edge borrowed from 2016’s Awaken, My Love!, vocals on ‘12.38’ bringing nostalgia from the days of EPs I Am Just A Rapper and it’s sequel.
In the real world, I listened to this while walking my dog through a vast field of grass with the sun blasting onto my face, yet this album took me to a retro-futurist neon soaked bar on the streets of Blade Runner, then whisked me into a jazz club in the 70s with a whiskey on the rocks, and before I could even finish it, I was at a barbecue with my pals at the dawn of a warm evening as Feels Like Summer played us out. And the melding of these digital and traditional worlds I want to stay in forever, especially at this time of self isolation we all find ourselves in. At the time of quarantining, we are all forced to push ourselves, create discussions and delve into new things that could help us reach our peak as an individual, thus coming together as a community and reaching a global understanding, and once in a lifetime records like this one could be our olive branch.
Never stop being you by improving and changing everything that you do.
Thank you Donald Glover.
Words: Roscoe Martin