Musicheads Essential Artist: Childish Gambino

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Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) performs in Las Vegas, 2018.
Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) performs in Las Vegas, 2018. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
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Musicheads Essential Artist: Childish Gambino
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One of the most dynamic, compelling artists of his generation, Donald Glover — a.k.a. Childish Gambino — is a Musicheads Essential Artist.

Donald Glover was born in 1983 at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where his father was stationed. His parents then moved to Georgia, where Glover was raised. While studying at NYU, the multi-talented young multimedia artist was already producing and performing his own music, but he first found fame on TV, where he starred in Community and later created the acclaimed hip-hop drama Atlanta.

Meanwhile, Glover began releasing music under the name Childish Gambino. His 2011 debut album, titled Camp, won critical raves, with both the album and the single "Heartbeat" making noise on the charts.

As Childish Gambino's profile rose, Glover collaborated with everyone from Beck to Chance the Rapper. His 2013 sophomore album, Because the Internet, raised the bar: though it earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album, Glover's swirling blend of sounds and words challenged genre boundaries.

Glover's third album, 2016's "Awaken, My Love!", pivoted towards funk and R&B. As his star rose across a variety of platforms, Glover considered retiring the Childish Gambino project...but instead, in 2018 he released a single that electrified the nation.

"This Is America," accompanied by a riveting video that amplified its themes, was a dark and complex statement on racism and violence that debuted at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 and became one of the decade's defining singles. Childish Gambino followed that track with projects including the breezy two-song Summer Pack and a short film called Guava Island.

As Donald Glover continues his unique career on record and on screen, the only thing we can say for sure about his future is that he'll remain an essential American artist.

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