I don’t have a child. I have not been able to watch someone, who I have raised, grow and progress, try new things, fail, and get back up again. I don’t have a son or daughter of my own to be proud of when they finally figure everything out and become an outstanding person. I never was able to watch people ridicule my child, then laugh at them as he proceeds to dominate every facet of life. I’m not at that stage of life yet.
However, I have felt this exact same feeling as a fan of Donald Glover/Childish Gambino. Being a fan since 2009, from his start on the cult classic show ‘Community’ to his hit show ‘Atlanta’, I have watched him grow. From Sick Boi, first mixtape under the name Childish Gambino, he has progressed as an artist, fine-tuning his production and rap skills to rise from underground popularity to mainstream stardom. What we’ve reached now is a different level of Childish Gambino, the culmination of years of experimenting and now finally having the freedom to create art as he pleases.
This past Wednesday, he released his Summer Pack EP without warning via a link on Twitter. Donald has crated a mystical aura around his Twitter. After taking a long hiatus from the site, he only is active when he decides to drop something or make an announcement, which always seems to break the internet for a short period of time. It features two songs, “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer.”
Musically, the past couple of years have featured an eclectic mix of sounds and styles from the Atlanta native. After rapping and producing hip hop music for his entire career, he veered off into a totally different direction with Awaken, My Love! That album was basically a Funkadelic tribute album, featuring a wildly entertaining mix of funk, soul, and R&B, and virtually no rapping. Then, on during his SNL debut appearance, he dropped “This is America,” a beautiful, jarring concerto made up of different rap elements, creating what he describes as the “We Are the World, but with rappers.”
Due to his ability to create anything and everything, I wasn’t sure what Gambino was going to deliver on his Summer Pack. What we got were two songs that perfectly encapsulate the sounds of summer. “Summertime Magic” starts off with a sweet steel drum intro, creating a dream-like feel. As soon as Glover, jumps onto the pre-chorus, he breaks down to the simplest form what we all want from this summer:
“You feel like summertime
You took this heart of mine
You’ll be my valentine in the summer, in the summer
You are my only one
Just dancin’; having fun
Out in the shinin’ sun of the summer, of the summer”
It’s right to the point, it’s simple, and it is authentic. He perfectly captured the sound of the summer that we had been missing from other mainstream artists. The beat is simple, but it makes the track light and airy, allowing anyone to groove calmly to it. “Feels like Summer” goes even further into the summer vibes rabbit hole, serving as the perfect match for the first track. Lyrically, it is more developed than “Summertime Magic.” Gambino begins to cover multiple issues facing the world, including water scarcity, the growing population, and global climate change. The pointed criticism of the future of the world is masked by a bouncy, amazingly catchy beat that once again perfectly encapsulates the prime summer sound. Gambino’s singing voice, which can only be described as a perfect, bird-like falsetto gifted to us from the gods, was made for summer jams like this. That’s why I’ve had it on repeat since it came out. I probably listened to the EP 30 times the day it came out.
One thing that I love about Gambino is that he is an ever-evolving artist. He has worn many hats in the music industry. As we get to the final stage of Childish Gambino, he has reached a comfort level that is usually only reserved for 20 year veterans of the music industry. He is creating at will, doing whatever he wants artistically. There is something beautiful about having the freedom to create the sound that you want to do. As long as he continues to put out art at the quality of his past 3 singles, everyone will continue to listen.