Donald Glover just had a big week. He hosted one of SNL’s best episodes all season and performed two new songs in addition to his duties as host. The music video for his second new song, This is America (maybe you’ve heard of it), went instantly viral for the timely, impactful and subliminal messages layered into the video. Then while that song was amassing millions of views on YouTube, his TV show Atlanta wrapped up its second season and its position as one of the best if not the best show on the small screen. All while touring the new movie Star Wars film Solo, in which he plays the suave Lando Calrissian.
Donald Glover has the world and critics in his hands currently, but believe it or not there was a time when his art had quite the opposite effect. Before his Grammy-winning effort on “Awaken My Love!” Glover’s previous two albums, Camp and Because the Internet had an average Metacritic score of 67. While wildly popular amongst his fans, his work didn’t strike a chord with critics and the world like it does today. That does not mean that there isn’t some great music on his previous works. Here are the five best Childish Gambino songs you haven’t heard.
“That Power” consists of two parts. The first is a rap chock-full with all the old Childish Gambino tropes with punchlines like “holla holla holla at yo boy like yo dad when he’s pissed off,” and “I don’t stunt a gold cross like I Christian Bale” and beat that makes for a very enjoyable listen. Beneath the superficial lyrics are some impactful observations about the composition of his fanbase, and how he seems to be dividing racial lines.
The second half of “That Power” is a 4 and a half minute story narrated by Donald about a valuable lesson he learned as a boy. It’s well-spoken, written and timed as he paints a picture of adolescence with subtle imageries that everyone can relate to.
Got This Money
I would be a liar if I said “Got This Money off” of his Culdesac mixtape was an important song. The lyrics are trivial and the not so subtle meaning is a tad gross.
I would also be a liar if I said it wasn’t a really enjoyable song. I could go on, but you’ll understand after one listen and you’ll find yourself humming the chorus or memorizing the rap, or both.
I. Flight of the Navigator
The back end of Because the Internet is wild. The composition of the music is some of the most unique stuff you’ll ever hear. Flight of the Navigator is no exception. The meaning of the lyrics has been a topic of debate for years among his fans. Some take it to be an introspective examination of love, or how the artist copes with loss, perhaps it’s both. The poignant lyrics, guitar riff, and Gambino’s vocals make this one of his strongest pieces of mood music. It is so often overlooked for being a song with no rap on an album dominated by just that.
II. Zealots Of Stockholm [Free Information]
Once again buried on the back end of Because the Internet, “Zealots of Stockholm” is a perfect combination of a synthetic beat and poignant lyrics. It contains what is perhaps the best words ever strung together by Childish Gambino “, it’s a struggle just to keep breathing, existential asthmatic puff puff pass addict.”
III. Life the Biggest Troll [Andrew Aurenheimer]
“Life the Biggest Troll” is an eclectic and introspective ballad that balances the storytelling of Because the Internet with the real themes in Donald Glover’s own life. In a rap world that puts masculinity on a pedestal and expects rappers to act a certain way, Glover shatters these stereotypes in one of the most vulnerable rap songs ever made. Make sure to add this one to your playlist and you won’t regret it.