Donald Glover – A Successful Distraction During a Pandemic?

(Source: Flickr/Jose Gonzalez)

*Edit: As of Sunday, all of the songs have officially been taken off the website without warning, as well as the concept art. This further causes me to have more questions in regard to what is exactly happening with this album. However, this disappearance provides fans of Glover a chance to spectate and stay alert for any potential new developments.

Ultimately, when I first heard my classes were canceled for a week, I thought this would be a great time to focus on my personal writing. Unfortunately, I would soon learn that this would not be idealistic as I thought. Areas I found encouragement in such as the writing community on Twitter practically went silent as news of COVID-19 filled American media. 

Social media, at the moment, is a strange place to be on. With fear-inducing headlines, misinformation, frequent updates of the viruses’ status in America and – memes.

Simultaneously, you are exposed to the anxieties of everyday people as they live through this pandemic as well as seeing the indifferent, or calmed, perspectives of others.

Still, you can write as much as you want if it helps to take your mind off the situation at hand. But without a doubt, this is not a good time to be selling, let alone promoting, a book if you are an author. This is also not a good time to be involved in filmmaking, as movies such as Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan have been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns

Then, on Saturday night, the most surprising thing happened – Donald Glover released an album. Without promotion, without so much of a hint.

This free 12 song album is at donaldgloverpresents.com. All that can be seen is a black and white conceptual sketch of civilians in the midst of a riot. Undefined stick figures in the back stand atop buildings that seem to billow smoke and flames. A diverse variety of people are seen in the front, taking selfies, panicking, or possessing looks that convey joy and contentment.

(Source: Youtube/Whatever)

Something that caught my eye about this drawing was the notes. On the website you can see that in a bright pink there is ‘cover’ written on the far left, followed by the numbers 2, 3, and 4. This tells me this is meant to be the physical album cover, but even that causes me to continue having many questions. 

Glover, also known by his stage name, Childish Gambino, has three previous albums. “Camp,” “Because the Internet,” and “Awaken, My Love!” which was released in 2016. 

In past interviews, Glover stated he would be retiring his Childish Gambino alias after his next album, however, the name is nowhere to be seen on the album. This leaves me to wonder, is this actually the final album Glover briefly spoke of? And since I am staring at the cover art, will this be finalized in the future?

(Source: Youtube/Amazon Prime Video)

In the past, there were some who theorized Glover’s 2019 film, “Guava Island” promoted an upcoming album. It was a reasonable idea, as he incorporated his singles such as, “This is America,” “Summertime Magic,” “Feels Like Summer,” as well as a variety of new songs. This is proven not to be the case, as the only new song from “Guava Island” that appears on “Donald Glover Presents” is “Feels like Summer.” 

For some listeners, this will be the only identifiable song due to the matter there is no tracklist on the website, but artists such as 21 Savage and Ariana Grande are confirmed to be featured on the songs.

Frankly, I was surprised that “This is America” was not featured on this album, as the cover brings to mind the chaos that can be seen in the violent music video. Not only that, but these (currently) untitled songs, for the most part, have similar vibes. In some songs, Glover raps. In others, there is a funk vibe similar to what was previously heard in, “Awaken My Love!” 

After my first listen, I would not call “Donald Glover Presents” a bad album, but I definitely feel I will be enjoying it more when the tracks are better accessible. 

At the moment, Glover has provided no comment about “Donald Glover Presents,” and it is not available on any streaming service except for on the website itself. Perhaps it is still a work in progress, much like its art. But I will say, this is the first time I have seen an entertainer on social media distract American attention from COVID-19.  

Ayzha Middlebrooks
Associate Editor

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