Childish Gambino
03.15.20


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
March 30th, 2020 | 19 replies


Release Date: 03/22/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "To be beautiful is to be hunted".

03.15.20's usage of the words above in the obstinately catchy "19.10" ranks as the most dramatic, attention-grabbing lyric I've heard in a long time. It recalls so much with so little: minds race to the video of "This is America" in its final moments; from there to the cacophony of noise and heavy breathing which ends "24.19" and the first half of the album; to haunting, soul-wracking images and frames from Glover's Atlanta; to an adenoidal, shaky whine on his previous album, heartbreakingly pleading "don't take my baby boy, don't take my pride and joy". With a single line, Donald Glover manages to recall the best, the most unforgettable moments of his entire artistic output. And we're only five songs deep.

Would it feel dismissive to say that point is where the album really starts? It's not a matter of quality so much as clarity of vision. See "Algorhythm" self-consciously shrouding itself in robotic monotone and breaking down at the end like the hard drive is malfunctioning, seemingly aware that its too-dense verses aren't really getting a message across. See "Time", melodically a surefire hit; maybe too much so, because with a Jai Paul assist the song smothers itself in lo-fi splutterings and varispeed pitching so that Glover and Ariana Grande sound more like voices echoing around a sinking ship than bold, proud superstars. Things really get great with "12.38", a hilarious song which sees Gambino weaponising his full range to spin some The Love Below-style seduction. But the song's attention to detail marks it as more than your usual sex jam - the girl's bookshelf with N. K. Jemisin and bell hooks, the beat-by-beat breakdown of Glover's protagonist taking psilocybin, a surprisingly serious ending where he wakes up alone, "Toni singing me another sad song". It's a scattered beginning to 03.15.20, is what I'm saying, perhaps coasting by more on bold sounds and big-name features; not in itself a bad thing, but those of us obsessing since Coachella had plenty of time to be ready for an album blending "Awaken, My Love!" and Because the Internet's wildest moments. And then "19.10" hits, and nothing is the same.

That's not to to say this is the only song to deal with heavier topics. The ecstatic "35.31" instantly cleaves the fanbase of this album in half based on how much ridiculousness you're willing to take, but has a lot of success taking an indie pop instrumental that could convince your grandparents to buy an insurance plan and letting Glover positively whistle a tale of drug dealing and violence on his way to the graveyard. "Feels Like Summer" aims for a similar contrast between chill-out instrumental and dramatic lyrics, but the addition of some background animal noises isn't enough to make the 2018 song feel fresh as it stumbles down the same repetitive melody. Most rewarding for fans is penultimate track "47.48", which bears a strong resemblance to "Baby Boy" filtered through a darker worldview ("Are you scared of the world? Is it hard to live?", the guy who wrote "Bonfire" croons confrontingly). The similarities, you realise, are deliberate when Glover's son Legend himself appears on the track, adorably preaching the importance of self-love and setting the stage for the closer. The contrast couldn't be more clear: where "Awaken" interrogated Glover's internal feelings about fatherhood and love, 03.15.20 often reflects his gaze outward, to wonder what kind of world he's raising his son in.

But I digress, because I came here to argue that the whole project centres on "19.10", easily one of the finest songs he's ever released. The beat gallops along like a three-wheeled wagon, never quite allowing you to figure out its momentum or where the emphasis should be placed. This couldn't fit better with the lyric, where the verses see Glover talking to his recently deceased father about love and beauty before the hook brings up the injustices of the world. It makes for a gorgeous parallel to "53.49", the closing statement of the album. A fiery take on Kendrick Lamar's "i" as performed by Glover's best impersonation of James Brown, the song spits out come-ons, brags and cerebral head-scratchers like "amber-coloured lotus flowers when I touch the sky" in quick succession, but makes room for a chorus where Glover's father imparts a message of boundless, universal love. If it's truly the last Childish Gambino song, it's hard to fault the note he went on.

You have to wonder, though, if it's really the end. If 03.15.20 is a full stop to one of the most dynamic, inventive, frustratingly inconsistent discographies of the last decade. I'm not convinced Glover's multi-hyphenate brain could ever stop working away, creating shows and songs and short films and botching album rollouts to a ridiculous degree. Maybe this is more of an ellipsis for fans to continue on; after all, this is an album with a hole in the centre, one that looks and sounds a lot like "Human Sacrifice", the conspicuously absent best song from the 03.15.20 era. Maybe those songs are for us to title, that blank space for us to make artwork. More likely, though, they're not; real-world events forced a rush release that marked 03.15.20 as frustrating and divisive as anything its creator has made in the past 10 years. In a way, that's the answer I prefer. It's nice to think a man like Donald Glover, obscenely talented, innovative and brilliant, can make some stupid fumbles like the rest of us.



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user ratings (219)
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2020


44026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

more of a rant than a review, but whaddyagonnado



LITTLE FOOT BIG FOOT GET OUT THE WAY

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 30th 2020


25800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hahaha you went off...nice job

"but has a lot of success taking an indie pop instrumental that could convince your grandparents to buy an insurance plan" LOL yes.

newsteamchannel4
March 30th 2020


40 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Man you may call this a rant but it’s a great review. 19.10’s importance needs the extra stress, it’s practically perfect. The album’s got some messy moments but yeah somehow it’s better for it, and listening to it all as one track is something else.



Little foot big foot has a very similar progression to M.I.A.’s Paper Planes and I think it was intentional. Probably commentary on the normalization of drug talk in pop songs and how it affects children. Idk.



But yeah dope write up dude I’m gonna read some of your other shit

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2020


44026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cheers fellas. can't say I noticed the Paper Planes similarity that's a good call. also how the hell is Ludwig not a producer on that song, shit could be straight from the Community soundtrack lmao

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2020


3394 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gonna have to hunt this review, then, cos it's beaaaaautiful.

MusicinaBox
March 31st 2020


789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The hook in 19:10 is ridiculous. It's been stuck in my head for the last week.

MusicinaBox
March 31st 2020


789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review.

IsildursBane44
March 31st 2020


206 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey guys, I've been on this site consistently for about three years now, but I finally decided to create a user so I could join into discussions.



Great write up Rowan! I've been reading your stuff for awhile now, and I'd say you are one of my favorite writers on this site along with Con and Sowing.



I did notice a couple of typos though. "To wander what kind of world" in the end of the third section, and "Sounds like a lot like Human Sacrifice" close to the end.



Wasn't sure if you noticed, but I just wanted to point that out.

Digging: Sonic Youth - Goo

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2020


25800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

woah thx for making an account! hope ur here to stay man

IsildursBane44
March 31st 2020


206 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah! Definitely man! I am finding it a little bothersome that I can't figure why my favorite bands won't show up when I write them in on my profile, and I don't know how to have a picture show up under my name in the threads.



HELP!! (These are really small problems, but it bothers me that I can't figure it out. lol)

notagenius
March 31st 2020


359 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

>IsildursBane44



I experienced them. hehe



1) get bands hyperlinked

typing the band names and separating them with comma regardless of everything -> save that -> refresh profile -> hyperlinks appear. if not, check if they are in the database already.



2) avatar

my profile -> edit my info -> (log in again maybe) -> edit avatar

IsildursBane44
March 31st 2020


206 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the tips!



I'm not sure if using a Mac has anything to do with this, but I've tried putting in the bands (I know they are in the data base) but it doesn't save, and I can't get my pictures to shrink down to 100x100.



Ugh. Life of a guy who doesn't really know how to use a computer I guess. lol



Also I don't even know why I'm clogging up this discussion with site questions. smh

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2020


44026 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cheers @ISILDUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUR! and thanks for pointing out those errors, I'll fix those up

IsildursBane44
April 1st 2020


206 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No problem bud. Glad I could help. Thanks for the warm welcome guys. Hope to bump into you guys soon.

claygurnz
April 2nd 2020


5860 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really enjoyed this, bit weird and abstract in places but that only adds to it's charm imo.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2020


5203 Comments


Good album. It would've been even better if he trimmed the material a bit though. Sometimes he builds really nice an atmosphere and a weird interlude/segue thing comes in killing it.

Digging: Marilyn Manson - We Are Chaos

Waior
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2020


11765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

32.22 is such an upsetting track, really seals the deal for this album for me



last song is the coolest song on the record for me, but yeah, so much to love

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 17th 2020


35699 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bumped this to a 4.5. It's so wild.

Digging: Movements - No Good Left To Give

Element
September 5th 2020


59 Comments


i just noticed all the gambino albums have the exact same averages as the pierce the veil albums



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