Donald Glover, better known musically by his pseudonym, Childish Gambino, has existed alone on an island in the corner of the hip-hop world since his first mixtape, Camp. Technically speaking, he isn’t tied to any of the rap conglomerates of his peers, like Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music Label or Drake’s OVO Sound Label. What’s more, his prominence can’t really be credited to anyone but himself, something that cannot be said for artists like Chance the Rapper and Travis Scott, who received endorsements from already established acts during their come-ups. In short, Glover is a lone wolf. This status affords him a unique perspective in the hip-hop world, one through which he can neutrally observe trends; this lense is exposed in the newly released music video for his melancholic sunset track, “Feels Like Summer.”
The video in a nutshell: An animated Glover, looking jaded with tired eyes and a rugged beard, strolls down a suburban street with headphones in his ears and hands in his pockets. Around him, prominent figures in hip hop take part in various scenes that insightfully speak on the state of the popular genre today. Drake chases Future, who rides into the sunset on a bicycle; Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott play with children’s blocks; Lil Pump and Trippie Redd skip around like toddlers and seek attention from 21 Savage and Kodak Black; most interestingly, Michelle Obama comforts a crying Kanye West. Through it all, Glover looks tired and almost desperate for a new order.
Through these images, Glover brilliantly allegorizes the hip-hop world in 2018: Drake owes much of his prominence to Future’s influence; Lil Pump and Trippie Redd compete with acts like 21 Savage and Kodak Black, but have a significantly less mature image; Nicki Minaj has been bickering over Astroworld’s dominance of her Queen; Kanye West infamously made major waves with a Trump endorsement over the summer. Amidst all of hubbub, Glover has remained a true boundary-pushing artist while avoiding negative press and trivial feuds, relying solely on his talent by embracing the aforementioned lone wolf characteristic. Based on the emphatic images of his new music video, it seems Glover has also been a silent observer of the music world around him, steering clear of the bad, learning from the good and establishing himself as hip hop’s wise man.