Last week, Donald Glover provided fans with a distraction from coronavirus quarantine by surprise-dropping a 12-song new album in the wee hours of the morning, which was available to stream on a dedicated website before being removed approximately 12 hours later. At 3 a.m. ET Sunday, he officially released the album onto streaming services, with a title of last Sunday’s date, “3.15.20.”
Very little information accompanied the release, which appears under the names Donald Glover and his musical alter-ego, Childish Gambino, and is available to stream as individual songs (as Gambino) and as a continuous play (under Donald Glover Presents, as it was last week). The album’s sequence is the same as the one that dropped last week, although it starts with what was assumed to be track 6 — because the album was on one long continuous play, it was impossible to tell where it actually started.
“To promote a communal vibe, fans across the globe can experience the album simultaneously at DonaldGloverPresents.com for a limited time.
3.15.20 contains 12 tracks with appearances by Ariana Grande, 21 Savage and Khadja Bonet.”
That website also includes a photo of a cryptic handwritten essay of sorts that begins:
“I met with an oracle on a friend’s recommendation
She cleansed me and told me three things:
Someone would die
I had a star on my head
Stay close to God.”
Read the entire piece at DonaldGloverPresents.com.
Just two songs have titles — most are simply the times of their point in the sequence, like a YouTube video — but Genius.com last week speculated on titles (listed below). Credits are available on Tidal; frequent collaborators include his longtime coproducer Ludwig Goransson along with cowriters/coproducers DJ Dahi, EY, Chukwudi Hodge, Sarah Aarons, Kurtis Mckenzie and others.
The album apparently has no official artwork — a link to cover art is a blank square — but a new press photo features Glover in a domestic scene with his two sons (who are wearing Spiderman masks).
Glover, whose public statements are often enigmatic, has said for years that his latest tour and album would be the “final” one by his longtime alter-ego Childish Gambino, although the tour stretched on for months — with multiple dates delayed after the singer suffered an unspecified injury, which reports said was a broken foot, in September of 2018 — and the album never appeared, unless Sunday’s release is it. Since 2005, Glover has released three full-length albums and several mixtapes as Childish Gambino.
While it is unclear whether the collection is the long-percolating “final” Childish Gambino album that the actor-singer apparently has had in the works for several years, it does include three songs that appeared under Gambino auspices: the 2018 single “Feels Like Summer” (performed on “Saturday Night Live” and on tour), “Warlords” (also performed live) and “Algorythm” (also performed on tour, and used in a Google Pixel commercial). Based on initial listens, it certainly seems that it could be: The songs continue with the feel of the music he released in 2018 — which also include “Summertime Magic” — combining traditional R&B with hip-hop, Caribbean and more aggressive sounds.
The official song titles are as follows:
Genius.com, an authoritative website specializing in hip-hop lyrics and interpretations of them, lists the song titles, most of which are presumably educated guesses, as follows:
- Intro (Warlords)
- Little Foot Big Foot
- Why Go To the Party
- Feels Like Summer
- Don’t Worry About Tomorrow (The Violence)
- Under the Sun
- We Are (Interlude)
- Time (Ft. Ariana Grande)
- Vibrate (Ft. 21 Savage & Khadja Bonet)
- To Be Beautiful
- Sweet Thing / Thank You
One song features a charming verbal exchange apparently between Glover and one of his two children about whether or not they love themselves (they do, although the mom’s answer is not heard). Glover has two sons, one of whom is named Legend, with girlfriend Michelle White. The closing track features an autotuned vocal and at different times recalls songs by Prince and Frank Ocean.
Glover/Gambino was essentially everywhere during 2018-2019, with his hit series “Atlanta”; several singles riding the success of his 2016 album “Awaken My Love!”; a high-profile North American tour that included appearances at last year’s Coachella festival; a stellar 2018 turn as host and musical guest of “Saturday Night Live“; roles as Lando Calrissian in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and as the voice of Simba in Disney’s live-action version of “The Lion King”; and a short film starring Rihanna called “Guava Island.” However, he surprisingly dropped off of the radar after the last dates of his tour without releasing a long-expected and teased album.