2016 will go down in history for many reasons—it will also go down as the year that I became a full-fledged Childish Gambino stan.
I long enjoyed Gambino, had become increasingly impressed with his output, but 2016 is the year he went full-on Super Saiyan and established himself as the most creative independent force working in, and beyond, hip-hop.
Atlanta was flat out one of the best shows on any screen this year. At a time when artists are happy for handouts from Apple Music and Tidal, he just went ahead and put on his own music festival through his own app. His music is exploding boundaries ("Me & Your Mama" is solar fire). And now, just days short of the release of his "Awaken, My Love!" album, he's leveling up again.
Late last night, Gambino issued a single tweet—he always only has one tweet on his timeline ever now—and fans who clicked over to the Pharos app were greeted with VR (virtual reality) footage from the Pharos concert.
Simultaneously, he updated his site with new Awaken merch, including "Virtual Reality Limited Edition Vinyl." What the hell is virtual reality vinyl? I have no idea, but Gambino's about to show us.
I'm hard pressed to think of other artists who are consistently producing art of this quality and releasing it in such a seamless fashion; Beyoncé comes to mind, but she's doing it with a small army of people while Gambino's primarily operating out of a rented house in L.A. filled with a handful of friends.
Something tells me that Awaken is going to drop and make a lot of people reconsider their "best albums of the year" list, but no matter how good the album does or what it sells, as far as I'm concerned Glover/Gambino has already won 2016.
By Nathan S, occasional keyboard hitter and beard maintainer. This is his Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram