Childish Gambino Vibrates Time With Algorhythm On 3.15.20

Donald Glover is one of the world’s most talented, creative, and multidimensional entertainers. Glover is just as comfortable on the screen and behind the scenes as on the mic. In film and television, Glover is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, comedian, and director in yearly feature films. His creation, Atlanta, where he plays the Ivy League-dropout rap manager, Earn, of the rising Paper Boi, represents and parodies hip-hop culture like none other.

“Paper Boi, Paper Boi, all about that paper, boy,” says it all. It’s sort of like Nas’s infamous “Somehow the rap game reminds of the crack game,” from “Represent” on Illmatic except now it’s the trap game, and if you can’t beat ‘em but have to join ‘em, you can at least stunt on ‘em.

On the mic, Glover definitely stunts on ‘em, usually as his alter ego, Childish Gambino. Like Post Malone, Glover got his name through a random rap name generator. Glover’s was from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. If you ever heard “Wu-Gambinos” on Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, or “Motherless Child” on Ghostface Killah’s Ironman, you get the idea. The name also sounds like Carlo Gambino, of the Gambino Crime Family, one of the five New York families of the Italian-American Mafia…except childish.

As Childish Gambino, Glover doesn’t care about categories or genres, and can just as easily sing, rap, or scream, whether you call the beats R&B, jazz, funk, psychedelic, soul, or hip-hop. Just listen to any of his top hits, like his most successful song, “Redbone,” from the 2016“Awaken, My Love!, a song that one a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance and rose to 728M streams on Spotify, and decide whether you would call it traditional or R&B. Or better yet, listen to his most critically acclaimed song, “This Is America,” the stand-alone single from 2018, and its music video, which won four Grammy awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Music Video, and decide whether genre matters.

On this past Sunday, March 22, Childish Gambino continued to defy expectations and definitions with his latest album, 3.15.20. As in his body of work as a whole, Glover/Gambino challenge you to deconstruct and find hidden meanings beneath the sheen. The album was originally released on March 15, 2020, which gives the album its name, on his website, Donald Glover Presents…then was only available temporarily.

When it was released again to streaming and digital download services under the Childish Gambino nom de guerre, last Sunday, its cover art was a blank white square, followed by a dozen tracks, only two of which have alphabetical titles, the rest of which are numerical time stamps meant to represent hands on the dial for positions on the record…except not for all of the songs.

Introduced by a cryptic handwritten message on his site days before, you are supposed to listen closely to the tracks and really decipher their meanings, rather than be guided by written descriptions, in-itself a good metaphor for Gambino’s experimental styles.

3.15.20 is enjoyment as music as well as discovery. As discovery, it is similar to Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered., which refuses to serve you titles, and the music video to Gambino’s own “Feels Like Summer,” added to 3.15.20, as “42.26,” with 170M views on YouTube, which challenges you to guess the guests on the screen.

According to Music Maven’s proprietary technology, which tracks all tracks and provides the most accurate music charts, despite is unconventional release timing, 3.15.20 levitated Childish Gambino to the top 5 Most Streamed Artists, with 4M and 3.3M total streams on its first two days, and the third Highest Earning Artist, with between $11-13K on its first days. The most popular songs on the album so far are “12.38,” which may be titled “Vibrate,” featuring 21 SavageInk, and Kadhja Bonet“Time,” featuring Ariana Grande, and “Algorhythm,” all just under half a million streams today.

As an unconventional wonder, 3.15.20 has allowed Childish Gambino to perform the uncanny feat of rising to the top five in streams and revenue even without any individual songs in the top 50 in streams or revenue. 3.15.20 manages to “Vibrate” “Time” with its secret “Algorhythm.” In its spirit of experimentation, listen to the album without looking at your watch and notice how it changes your sense of time.

By Vince, March 24, 2020