Donald Glover must be laughing his ass off while reading all the reviews of his new album, that didn’t come out right away under the Childish Gambino persona that he created. This was enough to make every music critic fail to categorize right on the spot the sound that 3.15.20 dropped recently on us.
He took a personal jukebox approach when it comes to the influences that we find in each track, and if you are not travelling through music genres constantly it is hard to understand why the songs were created like this. A jukebox approach is when you select themes, types of sound or voice or instruments that are already embedded in the collective unconscious in order to feed the hungry audience with something that will make them feel special because they understand it. Donald doesn’t need understanding from us, but he surely does want us to feel special just because we choose to watch him closely for so many years. Nobody knows yet, why the album dropped out of nowhere and why it disappeared for a short amount of time before we could find it on usual music streaming platforms. If this is an elaborated marketing plan to make us forget a little about Childish Gambino and to bring Donald Glover the musician in the spotlight, I’m getting my popcorn just to see where it goes.
Glover is a person with multiple creative outlets and this is why his jukebox is eclectic. The “presents” word that we find in the title has a nostalgic feeling and frames really well the fact that the album should be played on a loop like it did when it first came out and with the songs in that specific order. He packed his affinity for artistic disciplines into a modern mixtape of what moves him right now.
The actor, comedian, writer, producer, director, rapper, songwriter, singer and DJ apparently has a peculiar affinity for internet, future and existentialism and he does not fail to use these themes on psychedelic soul-rock combined with R&B, Hip-Hop, electro and pop. He cracked the code of each of these genres, installed some retro-future funk and thus, new wave cyberfunk was born. People are saying that his presence on social platforms is almost non-existent, but if you take a look at this man’s work from the past 15 years you’ll be shocked by how many references we’ve borrowed from him. Three pairs of Adidas Originals sneakers were reimagined by Glover in the first part of 2019 and they were launched under “Donald Glover Presents” and it was the start of the Donald Glover creative persona.
Algorythm, the second song of the album is the one that Glover has already delivered live to fans at Coachella and premiered through the mobile app PHAROS AR in 2019. Listening to Algorythm in the context of this album, it feels like a perfect song to rave to while in self-isolation. What Donald Glover does with his voice on this album reminds me of Mike Patton which also created different creative personas for his vocal and songwriting skills that could not be contained just in Faith No More. Some experimental early sounds of Mike Patton’s Peeping Tom and Lovage projects can be found through 3.16.2020 in unexpected ways.
This album is about imagination and how it can be used to fill the gaps of unfamiliarity by exploring sounds with humour and curiosity which we all should be doing during this time. He does a great job reminding us in Algorythm that: “Everyone is an addict, stumbling concrete/What was the motivation? Constant communication”.
What are you constant with these days?