Childish Gambino Buzzing On Social Media About New “Summertime Magic”

Those wily, alert eyes, that coiled body, that Cheshire grin—Donald Glover could be anybody. As an actor, he can pick the lock of a character, slip inside, and disappear...

Those wily, alert eyes, that coiled body, that Cheshire grin—Donald Glover could be anybody. As an actor, he can pick the lock of a character, slip inside, and disappear entirely. His career onscreen is limitless. In the recording booth, though, “he could be anybody” is rarely a compliment. Glover’s been trying on Childish Gambino roles for years: callow punchline rapper, sensitive and bruised lover, or hey, a funk auteur? Recently, he auditioned for, and nailed, a new part: apocalyptic truth-teller and doom-sayer. “This Is America” felt like an inflection point; maybe Glover had figured out who Childish Gambino was, just before announcing he’d retire the name forever.

But now he’s released “Summertime Magic,” a tepid island breeze from a hotel lobby somewhere, complete with piped-in steel drums and daiquiri syrup. The song—the A-side to the recent two-track release Summer Pack—isn’t bad, just bloodless, with vacant non-lyrics like, “You feel like summertime/You took this heart of mine/You’ll be my valentine in the summer.” It has the blank feeling of a reference track, like Glover recorded it in an afternoon with the vague thought of selling it to someone else. Recording slight songs isn’t a crime. And there’s no reason at all that Glover can’t be goofy, stern, raging, silly, carefree, and more, all at once. We contain multitudes, after all. But the crucial word in there is “contain,” and Glover’s songs still seem to spill out of a shoebox somewhere.

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