Donald Glover’s ‘3.15.20’ is a dynamic work-of-art

Childish Gambino's suspected swan song embodies the entirety of his artistic evolution

Donald+Glover+performs+as+Childish+Gambino+at+a+concert+in+Austin%2C+Texas+in+2012.

Childish Gambino / Eli Watson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Donald Glover performs as Childish Gambino at a concert in Austin, Texas in 2012.

Seventeen times.

According to my Spotify history, that’s how many times I’ve listened to the entirety of Donald Glover’s latest album “3.15.20” since its release on March 22.

Keep in mind that Glover has never been capable of producing anything less than a masterpiece; but as his first full-length release since 2016, listening to this album is an entirely different experience. 

With a blank white album cover and time stamps as nearly all of the songs’ titles, the album is about so much more than sound. It is a distinctively soul-filled work that perfectly captures human emotion while emanating dark and complex themes. 

The album was initially released on March 15 as a continuous stream on his website until he took it down later that day, hence the name “3.15.20.” According to Genius, he’s since removed nearly all of the song’s titles and replaced them with time stamps, which encourages listeners to listen to the album in its entirety.

With this album, it appears that Glover has a distinct motive: to make each track an essential piece of this immensely impactful creation. 

Glover’s euphoric voice, partnered with enhancing instrumentals, joins with an indescribable blend of funk, rap, pop, soul, and R&B. Each song offers listeners the opportunity for individual interpretation.

The album embodies self-expression, culture, identity, and the urgency of time with a different message in every song. From the feel-good “35.31,” to the critical yet emotional “47.48,” to the surprising reappearance of “Feels Like Summer” in the form of “42.26,” each track serves a different purpose.

One track, “Time,” discusses societal uncertainties with a dark and pessimistic approach, which sets up a beautifully eerie sense of urgency that seeps through multiple songs on the album.

“Maybe the sky will fall down on tomorrow / but one things for certain, baby / We’re running out of time,” Glover sings.

“19.10” reflects growing out of the age of innocence and facing the realities of living in society while being black.

The song embodies struggles with self-acceptance, beginning with Glover reminiscing about his dad warning him of a society that seeks to exploit black culture: “‘You’re so gorgeous,’ thank you, daddy / ‘Nothing’s really worth your time’/ ‘But someday soon you just might find’ / ‘The truth about the world’s design.’”

The album finishes with “53.49,” which explores Glover’s upbringing as he breaks free from societal restraints.  It ends the album on a high-note as he expresses gratitude for his life and what it represents for both him and his children. 

This song offers listeners a decisive end to the 12-track record with a powerful message of positivity in the face of criticism.

“Never said it even though I prolly should (Woah) / I said I love me, l said I love me,” Glover sings.

From the beginning of “19.10,” where his dad warns him of what to expect in the real world, to facing the ups and downs of life’s difficult realities, the album comes full-circle with his own son teaching a lesson of self-love and appreciation in an age of violence at the end of “47.48.”

Some songs on the album have been heard before, including the aforementioned “Feels Like Summer,” previously released in his two-track “Summer Pack.” “Algorhythm” has also already been heard by some, as it was sent to ticket buyers from his “This Is America” tour back in 2018.

During the tour, Glover hinted that it would be the end of his Childish Gambino persona. If this is true, it means that “3.15.20” could be a conclusion to the Gambino era.

I wasn’t sure what to expect next from Glover, but this album provided me with a cohesive glimmer of hope in a period of intense adversity. Glover’s ability to create such diversely united pieces never fails to amaze me, and this was no exception.

After years of producing works that explore Glover’s musical identity, “3.15.20” is a tear-worthy album that is authentically him.