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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Jaime’s Music-ing Adventures: Donald Glover Presents 03.15.20

April 6, 2020
"There is no definite genre - the album beats like a heart going up and down as it swiftly changes tone from one track to another." - Music editor Jaime Suarez reviews Donald Glover's new album...

After having a great idea on a trip back from Nottingham and being inspired by Graham Duff’s memoir – Foreground Music: A Life in Fifteen Gigs- I’ve decided to tell you about my journeys inside the music world. My objective is to inspire you; Because music is beautiful, enjoy the ride!

It’s Saturday night bordering on Sunday morning, and the universe has been crazy for the last couple of weeks. The pandemic has given my mom enough reasons to make me take a last minute plane from London to Mexico City and another to Guadalajara. It was one of the most nerve-racking and stressful trips I’ve ever endured. Nevertheless, it’s good to be back home.

I’ve been playing Star Wars – Jedi: Fallen Order on Xbox for the past two days. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and these types of games are like playing through a movie which is amazing. For the past hour, I’ve been trying to defeat a couple of Nightbrothers (habitants of planet Dathomir) without success. I’m getting angrier; every time I respawn I start to care less about the game. Eventually giving up, I decided to check on the countdown that appeared earlier on “donaldgloverpresents.com”. There are thirty more minutes left and I’m very tired. I should just go to sleep and check out whatever comes out tomorrow morning, I thought, but things never go to plan. Instead of going to bed, I kept playing until the numbers on the white page read “00.00.00”. After losing a few more times, once again, I decided to stop and as I checked on the site one more time before actually going to bed there was only ten more seconds to go, too late now. I refreshed the page, and there it was: a video with a play button on top of it.

The cover image was an open notebook with a handwritten letter from Donald Glover. It takes my tired brain a moment to zoom into it, and when I manage to do so I find myself reading about various dreams Glover has had in the past. Odd retellings to his brother about the time he asked Prince if he could see his father, one where he knew where the safe haven in an apocalyptic world was but couldn’t remember it. There was also the tale of a fight he prepared for even though he knew he would lose. He talks about shame, fear and realisation.

Underneath the video there was a light-yellow button that reads, appropriately, Music. I clicked on it and I was sent into a page asking which streaming app I would like to open. After clicking on the Spotify icon the first song of a white covered album titled 03.15.20 started playing. I start analyzing the track list and notice that, with the exception of ‘Algorhythm’ and ‘Time’, the titles signify the time in which the song starts playing. I’m laying down on the couch looking at the television which is still asking me if I want to respawn while I’m listening to a high pitched voice repeating the phrase we are three times every twenty seconds or so followed by an echo and various ambient sounds played by a synthesiser. The suspicious song feels like a film introduction. Every now-and-then a few piano notes are heard in a distant background. The phrase is heard nine more times in sets of three, but the speed increasing with each utterance. The last echoing syllables start to fade out and there is silence.

‘Time’ finishes with an autotune-reverby choir singing the words running out of time accompanied by a piano playing a delicate melodie and heavy 808 filling the empty space. The voices disappear and for a few seconds it’s only the piano, then a recording of chirping crickets in the night starts playing which catches the attention of my dog, Chai. The night sound is then interrupted by an electronic noise reminiscent of a spaceship using its teletransportation beam, but that could just be the Star Wars talking. Somehow, I remember that I can play music off the Xbox which has a great sound system. I was a little concerned I would wake my mom up, but I didn’t really care and the groovy bass from “12.38” started vibrating in the living room. I closed my eyes for the duration of this song, I wanted to take it all in (and in all honesty I took a two minute power nap). Gambino narrates the story of taking mushrooms in California with his love-interest. The song takes elements from “Awaken My Love!” song ‘Baby Boy’ and expands them into a more danceable tune. As the song reaches its climax, 21 Savage’s guest verse gives the song a rich resolution followed by a transition that immediately got me off the couch. Chai seemed a little confused as I clumsily danced around the living room. My brother came out of his room a couple of songs later, he was talking to some girl on FaceTime as I pointed to the television screen.

“He released it?”, he asked.

“Yup, it just came out”, I responded with a grin.

“Damn, he’s got me dancing in my room! It’s good, man”, he said, impressed.

I know it is, I thought as he walked back to his room.

Glover has achieved an incredible artistic maturity with this album. He has managed to explore and utilize the best elements from his past projects to create a sound that is completely his own. There is no definite genre, the album beats like a heart going up and down as it swiftly changes tone from one track to the other. As it comes close to a conclusion there is a short intervention from his son, Legend, in ‘47.48’ which filled my eyes with tears – the playful conversation between father and son made me look back at some old memories.- After Legend lists the people he loves (including himself),

He asks Glover, “Do you love yourself?”.

“I do love myself”, he responds kindly.

“Does mommy love herself?”

“Absolutely”, once again, kindly.

The conversation ends with Legend asking the question one more time making it feel like he is directly asking the listener. I smiled as I responded in my mind. Of course, I do love myself…

Finally there’s the uplifting ‘53.49’, which left me satisfied as it abruptly dies at three minutes and fifty five seconds, but I still yelled “No, please don’t end!”. It was around two in the morning when I said goodnight all around the house. Suddenly, I thought of how the letter mentioned a couple of sessions Glover had with an Oracle. In his second appointment,

The Oracle asked, “How long do you think people wait?”.

“As long as they need to?”, he responded.

“They’re not going to wait forever”, concluded the Oracle.

I popped in the shower as I clicked play one more time. Perfect timing, Mr. Glover… Perfect timing.

Words and Image, Jaime Suarez @jaimeduardos