Joshua Tree takes on a deep black after sundown. Imagine you're some 120 miles away from the smog of L.A., and the air smells fresh as the temperature drops. Pharos and the desert are packed end-to-end with dust. Blue lamplights lead the way into different clearings. There's a pond or two illuminated in the dusk and a general store where you can buy $4 Sour Patch Kids and like it. A large amphitheater sits outside, where showings of episodes 1-3 of Donald Glover's Atlanta take place. The show is brilliant and highlights the nuances of black life with ease.
The album, though, is a thumping, genre-busting sound. It collides funk, soul, rock and punk into a million bits and rearranges them. Childish Gambino can sang, and the man held the crowd in anticipation the entire way. The lighting show was mastered by Wolf+Rothstein with cooperation from Microsoft — yeah, those folks. Gambino was up there being radical, one arm in the past of George Clinton and the Beach Boys and one arm in a hopeful future — one where the internet doesn't dominate every aspect of our lives. Ironic (even though there was technically no irony allowed) that he should shun the web after embracing it so thoroughly before.
But how will it be received once it's out? We're not so sure. Up there, under that dome, the album sounded incredible even though we couldn't hear a word he was saying. In the light of day, the critics and the fans might have a few questions.
Gambino went full Earth, Wind and Fire on this one. He sings throughout — and not just on one or two tracks. We're talking full-on singing, with a full band behind him. How will people handle that? "3005" saw him do a bit of that, but his voice is more robust than ever. I saw him stand up there and deliver. He used his voice like an instrument instead of just a prop. People might say it's too much. They might call him out for co-opting a time of music that, while his legacy, is not the future. We can see criticisms of his theatrics based on who he's presented himself as in the past.
Or, the project could grab raves for its back-to-the-future inventiveness. It rides a wave as much led by Grace Jones as Beyoncé. The production, if anything like the concert, is lush and jive. The songs are disparate looks at how black music expresses itself in different genres. It's the opposite of Frank Ocean's Blonde, which is quiet. Pharos is expansive, as though he was trying to jam in every last thing he could. Let's hope the world lets Childish Gambino be great.
No reaction at all
It could come and go without anyone paying any real attention to it all. We all focus on Atlanta, letting Gambino's concept album blow in the wind. No one deals with the work on its merits, instead crafting an opinion on it based on our hypothetical knowledge of him and his music. Then, it leaves the news cycle completely, giving way to another record people find more digestible and/or great. This would be the real tragedy, because the project seems to be one that at least needs to find an ear somewhere.
What do you anticipate will happen with Gambino's Pharos? Let us know in the comments below!
Loving Blavity's content? Sign up for our newsletter and don't miss a...
Donald Glover's role in Spider-Man: Homecoming is still a mystery, but he's proud of the work he did on the film. In TIME magazine, he spoke about his time on the project. Obviously, we all know there was a massive campaign for Donald to play Spider-Man himself as a leading man in a previous franchise. He said, "The Internet is a strange box. It was weird to see that full circle. I only did it because I thought it was a cool role. I’m never going to do something just because."
He also spoke about the amount of diversity on the film. It will have the most black and PoC characters that any Marvel film has seen thus far. The rumors that Zendaya is playing the traditionally-white Mary Jane has been a great experience for us blerds, but not so much for some other internet fanboys and girls. He said that,"The movie was fun to shoot," but he didn't,"want it to feel like some sort of affirmative action." And it wasn't.
The talk then turned to Young Lando, and things are looking up. If Lucasfilm is looking to cast Glover for the role in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, they should just ask. When speaking about Star Wars, he wouldn't verify or deny the rumors that he's the first choice to play the role, but he did talk about how big of a fan he is. "I mean, I grew up on it. My dad was a big fan. I had all the toys when I was little. I had a Darth Vader with the lightsaber he has. It was cool. It’s a dynasty. It’s like the bible. I love that franchise.”
That's extremely high praise. Here's hoping we see Donald on the silver screen as Young Lando when the movie comes out.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released on July 7, 2017. Han Solo: A Star Wars Story comes out in 2018.
Let me know what you think in the comments, because I read and reply to all of them. Hit the share button and tag a friend who needs to see this.
Want more articles by Ira Hobbs? Sign up for Blavity’s daily...
Donald Glover's return to TV is highly anticipated, and the brief teaser promo for his upcoming project Atlanta has had all of us wondering exactly what kind of show it was going to be. But the official trailer above has dialogue and showcases some character dynamics in a way we haven't yet seen.
The show is classified as a comedy, but has a serious tone that conveys some key messages Glover wanted to tackle. Although the show follows two cousins looking to come up in Atlanta's rap scene, it's clear there are deeper messages he's trying to portray.
At the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, Glover said that the thesis of Atlanta was to convey how it feels to be black. And commenting on the darker tone of the comedy and why that was important to him, he said, "I always want people to be scared, because that's kind of how it feels to be black."
Atlanta will premiere on September 6 on FX at 10 p.m. ET.
For more content like this, sign up for our daily...
Donald Glover is waking up, literally. Glover hasn't been on our television regularly since Community, but the boy is back and better than ever. We saw the first promo not too long ago, and FX is pushing go on the marketing campaign leading up to Atlanta's premiere date.
Atlanta stars Donald as main character Earn Marks, a guy in Atlanta trying to make it in the rap game. Sound familiar? His supporting cast is dope, literally. Lakeith Lee Stansfield, who was in Dope, Zazie Beetz, and Brian Tyree Henry are some of the actors in the series.
Atlanta premiers September 6th at 10 PM on FX.
Never miss a Blavity update. Sign up for our daily...
As you may know by now (or not), Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, is a pretty big deal over here. Despite his absence from social media, he's been stirring up a lot of buzz recently with casting announcements for the upcoming Spider-Man movie and the teaser for his new show coming to FX.
And now he's back again. With what you say? Well...I'm not really sure, but it looks like it's something big. Donald broke his social media hiatus for the first time in a very long time with just one tweet.
— childish gambino (@donaldglover) June 17, 2016
The link takes you to a landing page for a free app (categorized as Entertainment in the Apple Store) named Pharos.Earth. So of course I had to download it as soon as humanly possible.
And this is what I saw.
Inside the app is a running animation of what seemingly looks like space travel, some vibey background music and a running countdown. Whatever is at the end of it is sure to be lit – because what does Donald Glover do that isn't?
I'll definitely be staying on top of the mystery that is the Pharos.Earth app. And if you're a fan, I suggest you do, too.
Donald Glover is playing with our emotions. We flew through space for days. And then we landed. Where do you ask?
Gambino just invited us all to go camping for $99 + tax, and I'm all about it. Gather your coins alert., there will be an album listening event plus camping festivities and whatever other surprises Donald decides to drop on us. It's safe to say that this has been the most epic album listening announcement ever.
Will you buy tix to go camping and listen to the new Bino album? Why or why not? Let's talk about it in the comments. Tag a friend on Facebook that needs to see this!
Want more articles by Ira Hobbs? Sign up for Blavity’s daily...
Years ago, there was a Donald Glover for Spider-Man campaign from fans all over social media. Many people attribute the actor voicing Miles Morales in the animated Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors to the massive success of that online whirlwind. But, if you're like me, you were still holding out for a live action appearance from our favorite neighborhood blerd.
Well, now it's here...kind of.
Tom Holland is still the high-school age Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) in Spider-Man: Homecoming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is supposedly already filming). But it's just been announced that Donald Glover has officially joined the cast.
Fam, this is like black nerd Christmas. I can almost confidently say that no matter who Glover is playing in this movie (which we will all meticulously try to comb the internet to discover) it's going to be the most amazing thing we've ever seen in a Marvel film (until Black Panther).
We could waste more time talking about who else is going to be in the movie with Tom and Donald, but why?
This is happening. I honestly don't know if there's ever been a better time to be alive for a black nerd ever, or if there ever will be. Enjoy these moments, my friends. And catch Spider-Man: Homecoming when it hits theaters on July 7, 2017.
Who do you think Donald will play in Spider-Man? If enough of us put our heads together, we definitely can figure it out. Tag someone on Facebook who needs to see this. To the comments!
Want more articles by Ira Hobbs? Sign up for Blavity’s daily...
Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, has become a blueprint for the black rap nerd archetype. The first few years of his career (circa 2008) were a series of beautiful moments in the life of blerd representation in the underground (and then the mainstream in years after). In fact, at the very beginning, his music was so black nerd specific that I had many friends who laughed at Bino and rescinded my aux cord privileges for weeks. But now it's clear who was right and who was wrong in that situation, right?
When I say that he's the best, what I really mean is that Donald Glover was, in many ways, the first to crack open the door. There were other big rap artists who hinted at it or made a few references to blerd culture on the sly, but Childish was unapologetically speaking about the black nerd experience in a way that almost no rapper (especially a successful rapper) had ever done before.
That confidence in his identity and willingness to share (and overshare in some cases) served as a beacon of hope for many mild-mannered, introverted blerds like myself.
Here's a list of sonic moments that highlight his journey toward the blerd rap revolution:
1. "B*tch Look At Me Now"
Although the early days of CG didn't contain the best of his bars, and even he admits that he played up his rap persona a bit, there was still a very proud black nerd aesthetic to his material. Lines such as, "Frodo from Chicago, really small and shy," or "Stay hard like my suit made by Tony Stark," make it pretty clear what he's about. Not to mention the references to high school bullies and that "kid name Vincent" who had it out for him that are really relatable if your childhood was anything like mine. The sample of Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks" (which was not a cool thing to do at the time) is the cherry on top.
2. "The Real"
"The Real," which samples Sleigh Bells' "Infinity Guitars" is still in the early days of bad audio mixes, but the potential was there. There are Powerpuff Girls references and a line about Borders, a book store that has since gone out of business.
3. "Do Ya Like"
The project Culdesac seemed to be a culmination of the previous Childish projects. The mixes got better (thanks to Ludwig), song structure and hooks got stronger, and he seemed to settle into his identity on tracks. There's even more blerdy content about everything from the Thundercats, talking white and trying to fit in. "Do Ya Like" is fan favorite on the tape. He refers to himself as a "Black Clark Kent" and drops a line about the "Donald for Spiderman" campaign that was on fire at the time. He also makes it clear that he's, "Hovy with glasses," or "Weezy, but geeky."
If you're a Bino fan, then you know this was a very big turning point in his music career. Around this time is when the buzz was as big as it had ever been. It was almost cool to be a Childish supporter. The quality of the tracks doubled and the lyrics only got more ferocious. Donald seemed to be owning every insulting black nerd stereotype in a way that removed the power to hurt us. This is also the very first time I ever heard the term blerd used in my entire life. However, according to Genius, we owe it to the Scrubs writers room. I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure that this is the first time anyone used it in a rap line ever, so I rest my case. Donald Glover is the black nerd rap champion we waited for our whole lives.
Did I just discover the origin of blerd (after this guy)?
There's also a really cool story in the outro of the last song on the Camp album, you should listen if you haven't heard it.
5. From this point on Gambino only gets better.
Very solid Adventure Time reference in this one.
6. And then he broke the game wide open.
There's a nice Mufasa line in this song. In general, this project is the most creative, with a screenplay that went along with the album track by track. And don't worry, you can still hear references to all manner of blerdy things, such as Japanese anime memes, The Little Mermaid, Playstation and more. Gambino never changed on us.
It seems like any music in the future is up in the air, but his FX show Atlanta is definitely getting closer to air. We still have all this music to listen to and great memories of when the blerd rap music movement was just a seed in the mind of a fellow identifier from Stone Mountain, Ga.
What's your favorite Childish Gambino blerd moment? Let's talk about it in the comments.
Want more articles by Ira Hobbs? Sign up for Blavity’s daily newsletter.
READ NEXT: 5 Blerd podcasts doing it for the...
Donald Glover's returning to TV and he's bringing the hood with him. The actor and rapper (also known as Childish Gambino) is the executive producer, writer, and star of the new FX series, Atlanta.
The show centers on Earnest “Earn” Marks, a college dropout who returns home after failing at his dream profession. Earn realizes how much Atlanta's changed when he learns his cousin is its new rap god.
Being an Atlanta native, Glover is aware of how outsiders view the city. “I know it’s going to be very easy for people to say ‘it’s a black Mecca,’ and it is, but I just think that it’s the most American place,” he said during January's TCA Tour. “Everybody there is like ‘Yo, I got a verse’. Everybody is trying to make something from nothing.”
Glover began developing the series back in 2014, but FX didn't officially pick it up until October 2015. The first season will consist of 10 episodes slated to air this fall. FX has begun rolling out the promo material starting with this 30-second TV spot.
Atlanta co-stars Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Lee Stanfield and Zazie Beetz. The pilot was directed by Hiro Murai.
Atlanta debuts this September. See you then!
Will you tune in for Glover's new show? Let us know in the comments!
READ NEXT: 15 Best tweets from Black twitter’s #AtlantaTaughtMe...
There's a lot of speculation about Gambino's new music video... Check out the video and read some things we noticed while watching it below.
Here are some random things we noticed about the video:
- Where are the pepper shakers? There are only salt shakers on the table...
- There are a ton of Thriller undertones
- It looks really cold outside... is he underdressed or nah?
- The clock doesn't move.. so it's all in his head right?
Notice any other funky things about this video? Let us know in the comments and we'll add it to the list above. ...