Donald Glover Surprise-Releases New Album Featuring Ariana Grande and SZA

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UPDATE: Approximately 12 hours after it first appeared online, Donald Glover’s new, apparently untitled 12-track album was removed from the website that hosted it. No further information was available at the time of this article’s publication, but it seems likely that the album will be released at some point in the future. Our original article about the release is below.

Donald Glover provided fans with a distraction from coronavirus quarantine on Sunday by surprise-dropping a 12-song new album in the wee hours of the morning. The collection, which does not appear to have a title beyond “Donald Glover Presents,” features appearances by Ariana Grande, 21 Savage and SZA. The album was not on streaming services at the time of this article’s publication, but is streaming on a dedicated website — listen to it here.

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No information about the album — even song titles — was immediately available. The website features a four-panel illustration depicting a crowd of people in the middle of an apparent riot — some of whom appear alarmed and panicked while others are excited, a scene that recalls Glover’s provocative and subtext-heavy video for his Grammy-winning 2018 song “This Is America.” “Donald Glover Presents” is also the name of the artist’s footwear brand in partnership with Adidas.

Glover, whose public statements are often enigmatic, has said for years that his latest tour and album would be the “final” one by his longtime alter-ego Childish Gambino, although the tour stretched on for months — with multiple dates delayed after the singer suffered an unspecified injury, which reports said was a broken foot, in September of 2018 — and the album never appeared, unless Sunday’s release is it. Since 2005, Glover has released three full-length albums and several mixtapes as Childish Gambino.

Reps for Glover did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for more information, although NME reports that an unnamed member of his management team retweeted a link, apparently confirming its authenticity.

While it is unclear whether the collection is the long-percolating “final” Childish Gambino album that the actor-singer apparently has had in the works for several years, it does include three songs that appeared under Gambino auspices: the 2018 single “Feels Like Summer” (performed on “Saturday Night Live” and on tour), “Warlords” (also performed live) and “Algorythm” (also performed on tour, and used in a Google Pixel commercial). Based on initial listens, it certainly seems that it could be: The songs continue with the feel of the music he released in 2018 — which also include “Summertime Magic” — combining traditional R&B with hip-hop, Caribbean and more aggressive sounds., an authoritative website specializing in hip-hop lyrics and interpretations of them, lists the song titles, which are presumably educated guesses, as follows:

  1. Intro (Warlords)

  2. Little Foot Big Foot

  3. Why Go To the Party

  4. Feels Like Summer

  5. Don’t Worry About Tomorrow (The Violence)

  6. Under the Sun

  7. We Are (Interlude)

  8. Algorythm

  9. Time (Ft. Ariana Grande)

  10. Vibrate (Ft. 21 Savage & SZA)

  11. To Be Beautiful

  12. Sweet Thing / Thank You

One song features a charming verbal exchange apparently between Glover and one of his two children about whether or not they love themselves (they do, although the mom’s answer is not heard). Glover has two sons, one of whom is named Legend, with girlfriend Michelle White. The closing track features an autotuned vocal and at different times recalls songs by Prince and Frank Ocean.

Glover/Gambino was essentially everywhere during 2018-2019, with his hit series “Atlanta”; several singles riding the success of his 2016 album “Awaken My Love!”; a high-profile North American tour that included appearances at last year’s Coachella festival; a stellar 2018 turn as host and musical guest of “Saturday Night Live“; roles as Lando Calrissian in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and as the voice of Simba in Disney’s live-action version of “The Lion King”; and a short film starring Rihanna called “Guava Island.” However, he surprisingly dropped off of the radar after the last dates of his tour without releasing a long-expected and teased album. Perhaps this is it.

Variety will have more on the album soon.

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