The name Childish Gambino burst onto the hip-hop scene several years ago. The 2011 album Camp caught a lot of people’s attention through tracks like “Freaks And Geeks,” “Bonfire,” and “Heartbeat,” turning Childish Gambino into an up-and-coming artist to watch. In 2015, his second studio album Because The Internet was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album, and though it didn’t wind up winning, it further solidified the young rapper as one of the biggest names in the game.
Childish Gambino released his third album late in 2016, and once again got a lot of praise. While Awaken, My Love! wasn’t as unexpected as Camp or as dominant among critics as Because The Internet, it was still seen as another positive release. It was also pretty different though, almost eschewing his genre altogether. As Pitchfork wrote in its review, the album almost ditches rap for “lovingly produced funk worship,” which is certainly an odd phrase but maybe an accurate one where this album was concerned. In other words, it might not have delighted hip-hop fans as much, but it was still a pretty interesting effort.
Along his journey to becoming one of the more reliable young hip-hop artists working today, however, Childish Gambino has also become a big deal as Donald Glover, his real name and the one he uses in the acting community. Glover has long been known for his role in the TV comedy Community, but he’s working up a pretty serious filmography also. Having appeared in minor roles in movies like The Martian and Spider-Man: Homecoming, he’s already in line to play a young Lando Calrissian in the untitled Star Wars movie about the young Han Solo, and he’ll voice Simba in a new take on The Lion King.
It’s on TV that Glover just had his biggest breakthrough yet though. Creating, writing, directing, and acting in the show Atlanta, Glover seemed to leap to new heights in the entertainment community. Heading into this year’s Emmy Awards, a betting preview called Atlanta the top of the newbies list, signifying it was among the likeliest of the new television shows to rack up awards. A show about two cousins rising through the rap scene in Atlanta, it’s a dark comedy and by all accounts a true passion project for Glover. It gained incredible critical renown throughout the year.
Now we can say he’s not just getting praise from critics or producing interesting TV content. For his work on Atlanta, Glover became the first black director to win an Emmy for a comedy show, setting a new milestone that not even his biggest fans could have predicted a few years ago. Still just 33 years old, he’s now among the TV elite, just as he established himself on the upper echelon of hip-hop a few years prior.
Hopefully, the success won’t pull him away from the hip-hop industry altogether. Even if it does, however, Atlanta is a show rap fans can appreciate, and Glover is sure to have more great material coming out in the near future.