Being Childish and Growing Up
(cover image via Flickr)
Last June Donald Glover announced that he'll be ending his musical career under the name Childish Gambino. I was of course upset about this. Despite having been a huge fan of his work on Community, I was late to the Gambino party. I was glad I made it at all though. His music has a sort of earnestness and charm that's only enhanced by his occasional tendency to dip into nerdcore elements.
So when I heard the phenomenal "Awaken My Love" would be his penultimate album, I had mixed feelings. After only three studio albums, there had to me more he had to say. It felt like when Michael Jordan quit basketball for an enterprising baseball career where he got to retain the nickname "Air Jordan".
But three things occurred to me when I took five seconds to think about it. First of all, I can't get into the habit of thinking the artists I love owe me anything. It's not fair to them, it always leads to disappointment, and enough of famdoms seems to revolve around that sort of entitlement and negativity. I'd rather be grateful for a world with this.
Second, we're talking about Donald Glover here. He went from writing spec scripts to writing for prime time television to acting, music, stand-up, showrunning, and so far he's knocked it out of the park every single time. When someone's that good at getting good at things it's ridiculous to expect them to stay in their original lane. His stylistic pivot between "Because the Internet" and "Awaken, My Love!" shows he can step in and excel whenever he puts his mind to it. If his mind is wandering somewhere else, then chase that. I'm almost always for anything that gives hyper-creative geniuses more free time to cook up the next thing we desperately want, but didn't even know to ask for.
Lastly, even if whatever he throws himself into next turns out to be disappointing or (shudder) merely adequate, that would be kind of a relief. It's not a matter of seeing that nobody's perfect. Part of it goes back to managing one's expectations, but there's something else I thought about here too. Sure sometimes good stuff comes to an end and what takes its place doesn't quite live up to what came before. It can suck, but it serves as a reminder that nothing is really permanent. All things come to an end, good and. The trick is choosing to let the good outshine the bad and not vice versa.
Thanks for listening,