Review: Donald Glover shows deeper side and one-of-a-kind artistry in “3.15.20”

Ellie Woodard, Reporter

In 2018, Donald Glover announced to the world he had retired from making music under his alter ego Childish Gambino. But when fans visited his website on March 15, they encountered a brilliant mix of psychedelic beats and solid bars about his reflection of life.

This music was originally played through a livestream on After 12 hours, the livestream ended, the music disappeared, and the website artwork of burning buildings was replaced with a white screen of “Donald Glover Presents” text in small, light-colored letters. 

The album returned on March 22 on all streaming platforms under Childish Gambino as “3.15.20,” the day it was played on the livestream. Now, the site leads to links to stream the album and a photograph of a journal page with handwritten text about dreams and an oracle.  

All the tracks, minus “Algorythm” and “Time” are numbers, named by the timestamps they played in the livestream. Despite the changes, fans quickly identified “Feels Like Summer,” a track debuted in his 2019 film “Guava Island,” although retitled “42.26.” 

Childish Gambino’s music always wanders out of the mold for hip-hop, and his recent album is no exception. “3.15.20” is a rare album of funky rhythms and poetic lyrics. The songs are deep, calling out society’s biggest flaws, questioning life, and reflecting on self-love and identity.

There’s a clear idea from the beginning where Gambino picks at technology in “Algorthym.” He questions existence with Ariana Grande in “Time,” pointing out that we’re all here, with no explanation, and we’re all “running out of time.”

In “19.10,” Gambino speaks about the oppressive dismissal and exploitation of black people in America. He gifts us the lyrics, ”to be beautiful is to be hunted.” The too-real lyrics of this song expose those who wish to prey upon the life of others for personal profit.  

In the track “47.48,” Glover raps about gang and street violence, and even sings lyrics ”beat him up, keep him down, light him up.” However, the track ends with a touching feature from one of his sons that brought me to tears on the first listen. The young boy lists off all the people he loves, including himself in the sweet, intimate conversation with his father. 

The closing track of the album, “53.49,” Glover reflects on his life, including both positives and negatives, and sounds content with how his life turned out. There’s comfort in hearing him sing ”there is love in every moment under the sun, boy, I did what I wanted to.” The song is a necessary loving life and feel-good hit for any cheer up playlist. 

This album was authentic, with smooth ideas throughout. “3.15.20” beautifully showcases spiritual awakenings that many struggle to put into words. There are still hints of the old Gambino within some provocative bars and beats, but it introduces a new side of Childish Gambino that expresses the fears and questions he ponders about life.