Moments when the pop polymath shook the world, from Star Wars to Justin Bieber
Justin Tam & Dominic Ellis
29 Jun 2018
After the earth-shattering video for ‘This Is America’, you probably know more than your fair share about Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino). The 34-year-old has been on the scene for a while now, so we've rounded up the top moments where he changed music, television and everything in between for good.
Season 1 of Glover’s FX series Atlanta sent television critics into a frenzy—in episode five a black actor plays the Canadian pop star in a surreal yet smartly subversive dig at the entire music industry.
Don’t forget that this moment happened in our very own city of Sydney. At 19 million views, Glover covered the ’90s karaoke classic (the “OG version” he says, and not the Fabolous one) and brought us all to our knees.
“Most Likely to Write for The Simpsons” accompanied a fresh-faced Donald Glover in the DeKalb School of the Arts high school yearbook. And they weren’t too far off the mark. After graduating in ‘Dramatic Writing’ in 2006, Donald Glover’s Simpsons spec script turned enough heads to get him a writing gig on Tina Fey’s cult comedy 30 Rock (where he would later cameo).
He used to be the Tumblr-era rapper covering New York indie rock. On the mixtape I Am Just A Rapper he jumped on the Rhodes riff from Grizzly Bear’s ‘Two Weeks’ (without even editing out Ed Droste's vocals behind him) and rapped about recording songs in the same bedroom he separates his laundry in. At one point, Pitchfork even gave him a 1.6. How far Childish has come.
When the Parliament-Funkadelic-channelling 'Redbone' came out, it was climbing the charts for an entire year. When he sat down with Stephen Colbert on his late night show, he met the YouTube sensation girl scout that used the single as a ditty to sell girl scout cookies and bought a whole lot of Thin Mints.
Just when you thought Donald Glover’s pop cultural stranglehold couldn’t get any stronger, along comes a Star Wars prequel in need of a young Lando Calrissian, the most charismatic smuggler in the galaxy. It was inspired casting, the role was well suited to the ‘geek-chic’ savant who once rapped “I’m stuntin’ lightsabers like my nickname Jedi”.
On top of that, he'll be in the new Jon Favreau Lion King, alongside Beyoncé, Eric Andre, Seth Rogen and original Mufasa, James Earl Jones.