October 27, 2013 I was scrolling twitter in my dorm room when I came across a link to a new Childish Gambino song being performed live at his show the night before. The link lead me to a fan made video of Donald Glover on stage, wearing short shorts, a big corduroy jacket and a light white t-shirt. He goes on to perform the song that would be ‘Crawl’. Energy, lights, live band, and a performance that made me hit rewind about 100 times. I was hooked.
About two months later the album Because The Internet dropped. It was different. Musically it was ambitious, catchy, entertaining. It played out as more like a movie than an album. The album tackles a variety of themes in Donald’s life, as he moves through fights, parties, ménage a trios, bad trips, and emailed videos. But the artistry doesn’t end at the music. I later discovered Glover wrote a 72 page screenplay to go along with the album. Starring a young boy, his father played by Rick Ross, it reads as a movie and is supposed to be played along with the album. A concept many *cough cough* (Beyoncé) are mimicking now. Each song adding to the story, adding color to a black and white world, building on top of each other. The album wasn’t an album, it was supposed to immerse you into a whole new world of his own creation. However off kilter, weird, and at times corny the world was, you were there. The concept of all this leaves a lot to interpretation, I interpret this to have been done on purpose. We get thrown into a story that feels purposeless, entertaining and interesting, but it leads to nothing. We don’t face an issue and accomplish a goal, he isn’t love chasing or money making, he’s just living.
So here we are five years later and I wonder, what’s changed? A lot but at the same time nothing. Donald has dropped a few projects in between, his ‘This is America’ video and song became a viral sensation and received critical acclaim. Both him and his sound are evolving. And we can’t forget his hit tv show, Atlanta. This is where the story of Because The Internet continues to me. Not necessarily in terms of story line but conceptually. His story of young black confusion and struggle all plays out too much of the same. As he grows so does his platform and his ability to say what he wants to say. From albums and secret screenplays, to a tv show. His shift in presentation has left him able to reach a wider audience, more accessible than kids digging through links and playing songs as directed by Donald. As he desereves he’s evolved into been a huge success, receiving a Golden Globe for the show and Grammy nominations, all Because The Internet.