Voted “Most Likely to Write for The Simpsons” in his high school yearbook was only the beginning of a hugely successful career for Donald Glover, or Childish Gambino as you may know him best.

Actor Extraordinaire!

In fact, as though it were some kind of premonition, Gambino was initially noticed for a spec script that he written for The Simpsons! As a result, he was hired as a writer for a new NBC sitcom at the age of 23. His success in this field led to landing a role on another sitcom called Community, which was a huge success. He starred in the show as character Troy Barnes for 5 seasons, 89 episodes, from 2009 to 2014 which marked Childish Gambino’s rise to fame.

His film credits are substantial. Gambino has appeared in some big titles over the years including as Magic Mike XXL, The Martian and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as voicing adult Simba in The Lion King. He also wrote and starred in his own film, Guava Island, which featured Rihanna as his co-star and was premiered at Coachella festival, and won multiple awards for his contributions to series Atlanta.

Nothing By Halves

But, we’re most excited to talk about Childish Gambino’s music career (is there anything this man can’t do?!). After years of independently releasing albums and mixtapes, Gambino signed with Glassnote Records in 2011 and released his first album Camp, followed by his second album, Because the Internet, both of which were pretty successful! Because the Internet was actually released alongside a short film which Gambino wrote called Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, starring himself and Chance the Rapper, as well as a 72-page screenplay which was designed to sync up with the album. A theme that we’ve noticed throughout Donald Glover’s life is that this man does NOTHING by halves.

The third album, “Awaken, My Love!”, is really where Childish Gambino reached new heights in the music industry. The sound of this album was considered different from his usual style, as it features far less rapping and much more singing, resulting in a set of tracks that draw influence from psychedelic soul, funk and R&B. In true Gambino style, the vinyl release featured a virtual reality headset and an app which allowed listeners to access virtual reality performances. Wild!

“Redbone” was the most successful single from this album which ended up earning Childish Gambino a Grammy!

Since then, we’ve seen single “This Is America” debut at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (Gambino’s first number 1!) and win four Grammy Awards including Best Music Video, Song of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Performance and Record of the Year. 2018 saw the release of another EP which included songs “Feels Like Summer” and “Summertime Magic”. We absolutely loved this EP, and so you’ll find “Summertime Magic” on the Rockschool Vocals 2021 syllabus!

It wouldn’t be a Childish Gambino album release without something exceptional to go along with it, and his 2020 album was no different. 3.15.20 was initially played on loop on his website for 12 hours until it was taken down again! Featuring collaborations with artists like 21 Savage and Ariana Grande, the album was officially dropped the week later to big love from his fans.

It’s safe to say we’re huge fans of this enormously talented man. Comedian, writer, musician, producer… everything that Childish Gambino puts his name to turns to gold!

If you enjoyed learning about his career, you might like learning some more about his contemporaries on the Rockschool Vocals syllabus, including Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Amy Winehouse.