After a four-year hiatus, Childish Gambino returns with an underwhelming, poorly produced project that ends his rap career on a sour note.
By Gavin Majeski
In June of 2017, Donald Glover told The Huffington Post he would be retiring Childish Gambino after one more album. “There’s nothing worse than like a third sequel, like a third movie and we’re like, ‘again?’ You know, I like it when something’s good and when it comes back there’s a reason to come back, there’s a reason to do that,” said Glover when talking about his rap career. From juggling two young children, his FX show “Atlanta,” and starring in “Star Wars” and “The Lion King,” it seems Glover has decided to dedicate his attention to other projects.
Forgoing his witty and sometimes cheesy wordplay found on projects such as “Camp” and “Because the Internet,” Glover’s last project in 2016, “Awaken, My Love!” shifted to influences of rhythm and blues, neo-soul and funk. “03.15.20” fuses the neo-soul and R&B notes of his previous record with the hip-hop soundscapes of his early work, but unfortunately is executed poorly.
The record features overblown and highly compressed production on the tracks “Time,” “19.10,” “32.22” and “47.48” which reek of demo quality. Continuing the album’s poor lineup of issues are tediously long tracks that overstay their welcome by two, sometimes three minutes. “Time,” “12.38” and “47.48” are six minutes in length while “24.19” is eight minutes, but feels like a lifetime.
Lacking any substantial chorus or hook, “12.38” features Glover displaying his evolved vocal range and tongue-and-cheek lyricism. The track then transitions into an awful vocal break and appearance by 21 Savage, which is the best part about the song, but not enough to save it.
The highlights on the album are few and far between, with the more hip-hop oriented tracks such as “Algorythm” and “32.22” feeling like B-sides from Kanye West’s 2013 record “Yeezus.” “Algorythm” and the closing track “53.49” stray just enough away from “Yeezus” that they do stand out as some of the most notable on the record. Other highlights include “35.31,” “42.26” and the ending of “47.48,” which thematically transitions well into the closer by featuring a soundbite of Glover talking to his son about self-love.
Glover excels when the production doesn’t feature poorly mixed drums or a monotonous song length, but instead evolved versions of his previous hip-hop formula and groovier R&B-pop tracks such as “35.31” and “42.26.” Sadly, only half of his project features the later.
Favorite Tracks: Algorythm, 19.10, 32.22, 35.31, 42.26, 53.49