I first listened to 3.15.20 when it began streaming on DonaldGloverPresents.com on March 15 2020. To clarify, the album can be called either 3.15.20, the title of the version containing separate tracks released under Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino moniker, or Donald Glover Presents, the title of the single track version released under the name “Donald Glover Presents.” The project is Glover’s fourth and, if we are to trust his past statements, final Childish Gambino album.
3.15.20 is Glover’s return to hip-hop and rap following his 2017 funk album: “Awaken My Love.” While definitely unique, 3.15.20 sounds a lot like an experimental version of Glover’s 2013 release, Because of the Internet. The album’s arraignment is otherworldly, meaning headphone listening is a must. Certain notes and instruments swirl around your skull, hopping joyfully from ear to ear. Additionally, the album is incredibly cohesive – songs and motifs flow beautifully between each of the tracks.
3.15.20 is likely a narrative album, although it can be hard to tell what exactly that narrative is. One theory states it’s meant to symbolize Glover’s life, or perhaps the most memorable moments in Glover’s life. The end of “24.19” and the second half of “47.28” lend some credence to this belief. Starting at six minutes and 45 seconds into “22.19,” a heartbeat can be heard. This heartbeat grows steadily louder and faster and is soon layered over the sound of two people breathing. After about two minutes, a “climax” is reached and the heartbeat slows as breaths turn to yawns. The end of “22.19” is clearly meant to simulate the sound of two people having sex and thus gives greater meaning to track 11, “47.28.” On “47.28,” Glover’s son is heard listing who he loves and asking whether Glover and “mommy” love themselves. Thus, the simulated intercourse on “24.19” appears to be the conception of Glover’s children. However, it’s possible that’s not the narrative, and it’s possible there is no narrative at all. That is perhaps the main negative of the project: it can be tough to tell what’s supposed to be happening at any given point. Some believe the confusing nature of the album was intentional, while others view it as evidence of a rushed and incomplete release. I just think it sounds great.
3.15.20 is one of my favorite albums released this year. Granted, that says much more about me than the album itself. Since its release, I have had numerous people begging me to tell them I hated the album, calling it a bunch of noises, or a poor man’s “Untitled Unmastered.” The latter is perhaps an apt criticism of the project, but even so, 3.15.20 was not meant to be Untitled Unmastered. Untitled Unmastered is an experimental masterpiece comprised of alternative tracks from what is perhaps the single greatest rap album ever created. 3.15.20 is a Childish Gambino album, created by Donald Glover, a man who acts, writes, produces, raps, DJ’s, does standup, and directs. Sure, it could have done without the two minute long description of a psilocybin trip that takes up the first half of “12.38,” and sure it could have been mixed better, or been better developed. But even so, it’s a fun, cohesive, narrative album, and if you think I’m going to stop listening to it anytime soon, you’re wrong.