2021 is shaping up as a big year for Childish Gambino. The musical alter ego of Donald Glover has been tweeting up a storm of late, revealing he’s set to drop new music in the coming months along with the much-anticipated season three and four of his hit FX series Atlanta.
Over the past 15 years the rapper, actor, director and writer has dabbled in several different mediums, conquering them. In recognition of his achievements and the new projects he has on the way, here’s a timeline of Glover’s major successes from his early days as a writer on 30 Rock to the release of his #1 Billboard single This Is America.
2006 - 30 Rock
Before the Grammy nominations and high profile movie roles, Donald Glover got his big break as a writer on Tina Fey’s hilarious sitcom 30 Rock. Fresh out of university and full of ideas, Glover spent three years as part of the writing team, making the occasional on-screen cameo while working on his burgeoning music career during his downtime.
2009 – Mystery Team
While studying at New York University Glover got involved with an Internet sketch ensemble known as Derrick Comedy. The group of comedians became an online sensation, with their videos totalling over 10 million views. During their time together they wrote a script for a high school comedy called Mystery Team, which Glover would star in. While far from a box office hit, the film showcased Glover’s acting talents and is regarded as a cult classic.
2009 – Community
2009 was a big year for Glover. Along with headlining his first feature film and releasing his sophomore mixtape, he got the role of a lifetime when cast as Troy Barnes in Community. Glover spent five seasons working on this community college-set comedy where he developed his comedic timing and acting skills as his star power continued to grow.
2010 – Culdesac
After binning his 2006 self-produced mixtape, The Younger I Get, Glover went back to the drawing board and began churning out a slew of experimental digital albums. None really made an impact until Culdesac. Taking inspiration from his hip-hop idols and merging rap with rock, electro and R&B, the mixtape is a cross-genre exploration of Glover’s creativeness and the first sign his musical alias, Childish Gambino, could become a bona fide star.
2011 – Camp
Building on the energy of Culdesac, Glover’s debut album Camp is a wonderful showcase of his witty and heartfelt lyricism. Addressing topics including his critics (All The Shine), exes (Letter Home) and racism (Hold You Down), Camp is an inspiring collection of tunes that helped Glover to be taken seriously as a musician.
2013 – Because The Internet
If Camp gained Childish Gambino a strong rap fan base, Because The Internet is the album that helped him crossover into the mainstream. While it received mixed reviews from the critics, it was loved by music fans, gaining Glover a shit load of new fans and taking him to the upper echelons of rap royalty. A meditation on social media and how it’s changed the way we interact, the album highlights Glover’s comedic wordplay and contains the existential hit 3005.
2015 – Atlanta
Glover recently tweeted he thinks the forthcoming third and fourth seasons of Atlanta are on par with The Sopranos. This is a massive call, but anyone who’s watched the original series can attest to Glover’s brilliance as a writer. Focusing on the struggles of a rising rapper and his cousin (played by Glover) who sees him as his golden ticket out of poverty, Atlanta hooks you in with its likeable characters, nuanced writing and tremendous acting from Glover and co.
2016 – Awaken, My Love!
Glover caught everyone offside with the release of his third album Awaken, My Love! Trading rap for R&B-infused funk and soul, some fans weren’t impressed, but his new musical direction works incredibly well. The album contains some of the most heartfelt and introspective songs of Glover’s career, with Redbone a funkadelic classic.
2018 – This Is America
Glover’s only Billboard #1 is a hard-hitting return to rap addressing the serious issue of gun control. Accompanied by an eye-opening music clip, featuring choreographed routines inspired by traditional African dances intercut with moments of sudden violence, it’s a fantastic and frantic illustration of Glover’s words that leaves a lasting impression.
2019 – The Lion King
After several cameos in films such as Magic Mike XXL, The Martian and Solo: A Star Wars Story (as the scene-stealing Lando Calrissian), Glover scored his biggest role yet voicing Simba in the remake of The Lion King. While unnecessary, the film is Glover’s biggest cinematic hit, raking in over $1.6 billion and adding another feather to Glover’s continuously expanding cap.
2020 – 3.15.20
First uploaded unannounced for 12 hours before disappearing from the Internet, 3.15.20 is another experimental release from Glover under the Childish Gambino moniker. Released amidst the pandemic, it perfectly captures the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of the world we currently live in and features collaborations with Ariana Grande and 21 Savage.