by William Burleigh ’19
On Sept. 6, Childish Gambino kicked off his This Is America tour in Atlanta, Georgia. The rapper, whose real name is Donald Glover, confirmed at the concert that this will be his last tour under the Childish Gambino name: “If you’re at this show, then you know that this is the last Gambino tour ever.”
Glover had previously hinted at a retirement of the Childish Gambino moniker in January when he said that the next album he releases under the name will be the last: “I stand by that,” he said of the retirement claim. “I’m really appreciative of this. I’m making another project right now,” he said. “But I like endings, I think they’re important to progress,” he continued. “I think endings are good because they force things to get better.”
Fans of Glover should not despair, for, the wording of his statement, “the last Gambino tour,” does not necessarily rule out future albums or live performances under a different name. In fact, many of his fans firmly believe that his final Gambino album will not be the last album Glover ever releases, due to the constant growth of his musical style and rising celebrity status.
At his show in Boston on Sept. 12, Gambino gave a fantastic performance. After opening by informing the audience, “This is not a concert. This is church,” he rapped popular hits such as “I. The Worst Guys,” “II. Worldstar,” and “V. 3005,” off his 2013 album Because The Internet. He interspersed these with more soulful funk songs such as “Boogieman,” “Riot,” and “Terrified,” from his 2016 album Awaken, My Love! along with his recent hit single “Feels Like Summer.”
He closed his setlist with a fiery performance of his 2018 song “This Is America,” which took the internet by storm in May, en-route to becoming Gambino’s first no. 1 single. During this song and throughout his Boston show, Gambino captivated his audience with the eclectic, contortionist dance moves that he popularized in the critically-lauded and much-discussed music video for “This Is America.”
Gambino ended his show’s encore with a soulful rendition of his Grammy Award-winning hit “Redbone.” His voice dripped with emotion as he repeatedly nearly screamed at the audience, imploring them to “Stay woke!” a fittingly dramatic end to an outstanding performance.
Whenever the retirement of the Childish Gambino name does occur, Glover will certainly not be pressed to find work, as he has appeared in a growing number of movie roles recently. Last summer, he appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming. This past May, he dazzled audiences as young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Next summer, he will voice the role of Simba in the upcoming live-action remake of Disney’s The Lion King.
Glover’s most popular work outside of his music career remains his television show Atlanta, which he writes (along with his brother Stephen), directs, and stars in. Atlanta, which portrays two cousins navigating the rap scene in the titular city, has received immense critical acclaim and various accolades, including two Golden Globes and six Emmys. Atlanta has been renewed for a third season, which will premiere in 2019.
Glover’s This Is America tour will hit 18 locations across the United States (and one show in Vancouver) and conclude in mid-October. His upcoming album, the fourth and final as Childish Gambino, is currently untitled and does not have a set release date, although it is expected at some point in late 2018.