Album Review | Childish Gambino – 3.15.20

According to Apple Music, this album was released on March 25th this year. However, the entire thing was available to stream and download on March 22nd. I’m really not sure what the deal with this project was. He made it available to stream on his website on March 15th if I’m not mistaken, but it was taken down a day or two later. I only heard a couple songs from it at the time. The marketing for this album is basically nonexistent though. It doesn’t have any cover artwork, the majority of the songs are untitled, and he didn’t even tweet about it after it was released. There also aren’t any credited features, and as of 3:38 AM on March 22nd, I haven’t confirmed any production credits. I’m assuming it’s also produced by Donald himself along with Ludwig Göransson. That’s not confirmed though. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that Childish Gambino is my favorite artist of all time, but I wasn’t really that excited about this project. I was pretty sure I would like it to some extent, but I stopped having expectations for him ever since Kauai happened. I didn’t even know what genre this album would classified under. I basically went into it completely blind.

So, the preamble that you just read was written about a month before I even listened to the album. I saw a shit ton of negative reception, and a lot of my friends told me the album was trash, so I wasn’t in a rush to listen to it even though Gambino is my favorite artist. I thought I was gonna really dislike it. However, that didn’t end up being the case at all. I love this shit. It’s not my favorite album from Gambino, but there’s not a single song here that I didn’t like. I guess that’s not true if you count the intro. That song was really unnecessary. I thought the vocal effect was kinda cool at first, but the track just lasts way too long… Well, hold up. Before I start talking about the album, let me explain my biggest issue… The presentation of this album was horrible. I don’t know why the fuck he released it like that. I don’t know why he named it after a date, or why he chose timestamps as titles for the majority of the songs, or why the official cover for the album is so lame. There are real song titles in the metadata on the website for the album, so it’s not like he just couldn’t think of anything. It doesn’t have any impact on my actual enjoyment of the music, but it’s still part of the overall package, and it’s very disappointing. Anyway, like I said before, the opening track, 0.00, is the only one that I don’t care for at all. It’s super minimalistic, and I don’t really get why. It feels really pointless. It’s just him repeating the words “We are” over and over again. There’s no actual meaning that I can take from that unless I’m performing an Elastigirl reach. It doesn’t really feel like it sets up the rest of the album very well either. It’s incredibly mediocre. I like every other song, but I will say that the album really gets off to a slow start. Algorhythm is cool, but it’s easily one of the weakest songs on the album in my opinion. If 0.00 wasn’t here, it would be my least favorite song. I do like it though. I really love the Yeezus-inspired production from DJ Dahi & EY. It kinda reminds me of that Kendrick Lamar & Weeknd collaboration that was on the Black Panther soundtrack. Gambino’s robotic vocal delivery during the verses is cool too. I enjoyed the verse, but it’s not amazing or anything. It seems like a commentary on the effect social media and technology has had on society. The hook isn’t really that great to me, but it’s fine I guess. I just don’t think the melody is that good. I kinda like it, but not that much. The song kinda goes downhill for me after the first recital of the hook. I don’t think the second verse is that great. I mean, it’s cool, but at this point the robotic delivery stopped being super interesting to me. Overall, I think it’s pretty good, but, like I said, it’s definitely not a highlight for me. Time is much better to me. I like the production here a lot, and I think the vocals from Donald sound very good. Ariana Grande also sounded great to me. I also love the hook. Not only the melody and vocal performance, but the lyrics as well.

Maybe all the stars in the night are really dreams
Maybe this whole world ain’t exactly what it seems
Maybe the sky will fall down on tomorrow
But one thing’s for certain, baby
We’re running out of time

The idea that all we can truly know for sure is that we’re getting closer to death is… Well I don’t know. It’s… cool? I wanna say it’s scary, but it’s really not. On paper it sounds fucked up, but it’s something everyone kinda just accepts at a very young age when they find out what death actually is. This song is followed by the first major highlight on the album for me, Vibrate. I’m not gonna use the timestamp titles. Fuck that. I’m using the original names for each song. The beginning of the opening verse from Gambino actually reminded me of Lil Uzi Vert, believe it or not. It has nothing to do with the writing or flow. It’s mainly just the manipulation of his voice. I love this verse though. I love his vocal delivery, and the lyrics are cool to me too. I loved the little anecdote about him being fed shrooms. The production is really nice to me too. The one tiny gripe I could bring up is the length of the opening verse. He probably could’ve trimmed the fat a little. I didn’t mind it too much. The bridge from Kadhja Bonet was cool, and I actually loved the verse from 21 Savage. It’s so weird hearing him over this soft, lush, friendly production, but it somehow works. I’ve never been a fan of him in the past, but I really enjoyed his contribution to this song. The vocals from Ink on the outro sounded fantastic to me as well. It kinda reminded me of Zacari, but not in a bad way. The song’s dope as hell to me. It’s followed by Beautiful, which is another highlight for me. The segue between these two tracks is really cool by the way. I don’t think the melody of this song is amazing or anything, but I do like it. The main reason I love the song so much it’s because of the writing.

To be beautiful is to be hunted
I can’t change the truth, I can’t get you used to this

This is such a fucked up line, but it’s so accurate when you really think about it.

To be happy really means that someone else ain’t
And balance ain’t a one-food plate
Everything is give and take

Again, the song probably didn’t need to be five minutes, but I still really enjoyed it. It’s followed by my favorite song on the album, Sweet Thing (Thank You). It’s 8 minutes long, but it’s so good. This sounds like the closest thing to “Awaken, My Love!” in my opinion. It’s a really beautiful song to me, and it’s super romantic. I love the production, as well as bizarre pitch manipulation of the vocals during the chorus.

Sometimes I wonder why you love me
But you love me
I always make you cry
No matter how I try
Sometimes I wonder why
Why would you ever want to love me?

Everything about the song is perfect to me honestly. There’s not a single aspect of it that I don’t like. I think it’s dope af. It’s followed by Warlords, which is a relatively weak song, but I still enjoy this one to some extent. The main appeal of this one is just the production to me. It honestly reminded me a lot of Travis Scott due to the autotuned vocals and vapid, occasionally unintelligible lyricism. If somebody told me that this song was dogshit, I don’t think I’d be able to argue with them honestly. I just really love the production. This sounds like the soundtrack to me running through a jungle at night while being chased by the police. I think it’s a good song. The 8th track is another highlight called Get Out the Way. I fucking love this shit, man. The repetitive melody is the only thing that slightly annoyed me, but the production here is glorious to me. It reminds me of Moo Moo Meadows from Mario Kart Wii. It’s probably because of the farm animal sounds that are included here. I love that. I love animals. I was kinda indifferent toward the lyrics of the song. I just think this shit sounds really great. It’s followed by another weaker song, Why Go to the Party. I like this one, but I get why others don’t. The production is super minimalistic here. The vocals sound like something from Francis Starlite. I like the lyrics a lot though.

Bliss is a cheap emotion, everyone here seems to afford
So I don’t know why I’m here without you

I like the minimalistic instrumentation too. It sounds good to me. The song seems pretty sad, but I really like it. I think it’s very pretty.

Grief is a standing ocean, I never swam unless you did
So I don’t know why I’m here without you
I miss you

I think it’s pretty good. It’s followed by another major highlight, Feels Like Summer.

That song has obviously been out for two years at this point, so I probably don’t need to say much about it. I love it though. When I tried going back to college in New York at the end of 2018, I was super depressed, and this was the one song I had on repeat. The lyrics are super dark and sad.

Air that kill the bees that we depend upon
Birds were made for singing
Waking up to no sound

I know you know my pain
I’m hopin’ that this world will change
But it just seems the same

I love everything about this track. It’s dope af to me. The penultimate song is another highlight called Don’t Worry About Tomorrow (The Violence). Once again, the production is glorious to me. The dark lyrics are really dope too, and I love the hook here. Again, it sounds a lot like something from Francis & the Lights, but not in a bad way. I love it. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about all the evil shit that humans do in the world, so this song really resonated with me.

Little boy, little girl
Are you scared of the world?
Is it hard to live?
Just take care of your soul
Let the beauty unfold
You’ll get through it

The outro with Donald’s son talking about all the people he loves was really nice too. I think the song’s dope as hell. The final track is probably my second favorite song on the project. It came close to dethroning Sweet Thing as my number one favorite. It’s called Under the Sun, and I think it’s amazing. It sounds like pure elation in the form of music. The chorus in particular sounds like something I’d hear at my dad’s church, but not in a bad way. I think it sounds beautiful.

There is love in every moment
Under the sun, boy
You do what you wanna do

I love his intensely eccentric delivery during the verses. The song sounds like acceptance and catharsis. The writing during the verses, especially the final one, is really gorgeous to me.

When you know your mama dyin’
And you runnin’ out of time
What you gonna say?
When you feel alone
Know you are not alone

I feel like if there was a ceremony for me leaving the psychiatric ward at the beginning of 2018, this would’ve been the song that played. I think the one message that this song really delivers is “it’s gonna be okay” and it truly feels like a healing hug. I love it. It’s dope af.

I think this album is great. There’s really not a specific issue that I have with the actual music. Again, I’m annoyed by the manner in which this album was presented, but the music is very enjoyable to me, so I was really pleasantly surprised. I think this is an odd note to leave on if it’s really the last album he ever does, but, again, it’s mainly just do to the presentation. The music itself is really good. I haven’t actually looked at any other reviews, so I don’t know exactly what people didn’t like about this record. I do think that it’s weird as fuck, but I think it’s weird in a really cool way. The hatred for this album made me think it would be super disappointing, so I’m actually really happy now that I’ve actually heard it. My expectations were super low, so this was an incredibly pleasant surprise. It’s far from my favorite release from Childish Gambino, but I’m not even a little disappointed to be honest. I think it’s a really dope album.

Favorite Song: Sweet Thing (Thank You)
Least Favorite Song: 0.00


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album

Grade: B+

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