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Above: Childish Gambino courtesy of RCA Records, Photo Credit: Pavielle Garcia

REVIEW: On ‘3.15.20,’ Childish Gambino Continues His Soulful Musical Evolution

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Childish Gambino, shocked the masses with the release of his first album in four years titled “3.15.20.” The album, which first dropped on his website donaldgloverpresents.com on March 15, hence its name, was just recently uploaded on all major streaming platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal. It uses the theme of time to keep his audience invested, despite the extensive length of some of the songs and this generation’s floundering attention span. 

Gambino’s artistic evolution throughout his nearly 10-year career has been a sight to see. He’s gone from what was once seen as childish (no pun intended) “nerd rap” and has since transitioned into this new soulful sound that not many other artists are doing. The new album combines sounds we’ve heard from projects such as Gambino’s “Kauai” EP and 2016’s soulful effort “Awaken My Love!” along with more electronic sounds to produce new fresh music that opens his old listeners’ ears and broadens his artistic horizons. 

Early on, music fans have been saying that Gambino’s new sound was reminiscent of Kanye West’s 2013 album “Yeezus.” However, I couldn’t disagree more. Although the album produces some of the same electronic and techno sounds, “Yeezus” was a new venture into West’s rap career. With “3.15.20,” Gambino makes it clear that he has grown past his rapper persona and now wants to focus on music that will feed the soul. On his new body of work, Gambino steps away fully from rapping and uses contributions from artists such as 21 Savage to substitute. He provides soulful singing and deeper exploration of the R&B genre which was seen on his previous album, “Awaken My Love!” 

An interesting aspect of the album is that all of the songs except for two have timestamps as the titles. This serves the purpose of keeping the audience aware of where they are in the album as well as serving as a commentary about the attention spans of our generation. Despite this, six out of the 12 songs on the album run over four minutes long. However, with the beat switches that are incorporated, you would never know. All the songs are varied in subject matter, with some containing themes about human nature (“Algorhythm”) freedom (“Time”), love (“24.19”), and self-reflection (“19.10”). Not only are they different in subject matter, but each song also brings a new sound to the body of work, whether it be mysterious techno-synthesizers, lively guitar riffs, or Gambino taking his voice down an octave. 

With every passing album, Gambino continues to solidify why he’s one of the best and hardest working artists in the game. Whether it be music, television, film, or other ventures Gambino always puts his best effort forth, and for that, we as his fans, are thankful.

 

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