It has been a remarkable 2016 for Atlanta born personality Donald Glover. Whether it be getting cast in the new Spiderman film, being given the role of Lando Calrissian in a Han Solo spin-off Star Wars film, or maybe even writing and starring in his own television series ‘Atlanta’; he has had the acting world at his feet in this calendar year and it has been hard to begrudge him of his accomplishments. Oh yeah, and he released one of the most diverse and brilliant albums of the year under his rap name Childish Gambino with “Awaken, My Love!” which contained songs in the style of stories he is telling his new child, who was also born in 2016. So to say he has been busy would be an understatement, but how did he reach these heights and what has been the process of greatness for the once struggling comedian.
We will start with ‘Atlanta’ which is perhaps the project he will be most proud of this year in terms of creating media, especially when he was awarded with two Golden Globe awards for his work (Best Music or Comedy TV Series & Best Actor in a Comedy Series). For those who haven’t heard of it let me give you a bit of background information, it is an American comedy-drama series which Glover himself wrote and stars in. It is about the Atlanta rap scene and focuses on two cousins who manoeuvre their way through the local game to improve the lives of their struggling family. The show was an instant hit and after just two episdoes FX signed it to a second series, which is due to air in 2018. Also, the main rapper is called “Paper Boi” and he makes bangers so what more can you ask for? Online review site Rotten Tomatoes ranked it with an average of 8.9/10 for the first season which goes a long way towards demonstrating how good it is. Considering this is an avenue Donald Glover had yet to explore and that this is his first shot at writing his own television series, it is remarkable and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone, whether music is your thing or not it is gripping and tense while also balancing sheer hilarity with some brilliant one-liners. I cannot wait for season two I am counting it down already.
We will now move on to his musical endeavours because this is the field I am most knowledgeable about when it comes to Donald Glover or Childish Gambino as he prefers to be called in the music sphere. Gambino has enjoyed a lot of success with his music which had been, up until 2016, very much hip-hop and R&B oriented. His first full studio album was titled ‘Camp’ and was released on November 15th 2011, it contained very witty wordplay as well as the complete explosion of noise and energy we heard from lead single ‘Bonfire’ which is still to this day one of his best songs. Critically and commercially, it did okay but nothing too spectacular, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard 200 and selling 52,000 copies in the first week.
A year later he released the mixtape ‘Royalty’ and although it was another strong body of work, it just felt to be lacking something. That something was soon discovered on ‘Because The Internet’ which was released a year later and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the Grammy’s, while possessing some of his biggest hits, such as ‘3005’ and ‘Sweatpants’. he also released a 72-page screenplay to go alongside the project, showing us all his mesmerising imagination. As of November 2016, it has sold 992,000 album units in America alone, incredible stuff. Another mixtape followed in ‘STN MTN / Kauai’ and it was a change in style, very much a singing project and looking back it was maybe a sign of progression and evolution, moving away from the hip-hop genre. He certainly did that with this 2016 release. “Awaken, My Love!” arrived on December 2nd 2016 and not even the biggest of Gambino fans could have predicted this. It was a soul and funk album which channelled all of his influences together and it was just fantastic. ‘Me And Your Mama’ and ‘Redbone’ were the singles to come from it and it debuted in the Billboard 200 top five, his best performance yet. If you haven’t heard it then change that and listen to it, a simply phenomenal album which I rated 2nd in my top 50 albums of the year list.
Incredibly, that isn’t it for Glover’s dominant 2016, as he was also cast in two huge films and roles, undoubtedly the biggest of his career by a long way. The first of which came in June 2016 when he was cast in Spiderman: Homecoming and although his role is yet to be discovered, just the fact he has been put in a Spiderman film is a huge deal and he must have surely thought it couldn’t get any better than that. Oh yes it could. On October 21st, the world was told that the new man to be playing Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off would be Donald Glover. Yes, that’s right, the man who played Troy Barnes in Community is now going to be in Star Wars, that is how far he has come in not that long a period of time. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Glover revealed that the first action figure he had was a Star Wars Lando figure so it was a “lifelong dream”.
I am truly like a proud father typing all of this out, I have been with Gambino/Glover for a long time now and throughout that period I have been saying he deserves more than he has, and he is finally reaping the rewards for his immense work ethic. Someone who works this hard and is this talented will always succeed so it was only a matter of time before a year like this happened for Donald Glover and something tells me we won’t be rid of him on our screens for a while yet. I don’t have a problem with that whatsoever as long as he makes some time to give us more music. So to sum up, 2016 was the year of the Glover and if you didn’t know that before, you sure as hell do now.