Donald Glover is about as close as the 21st century has to a renaissance man. Never sticking to one particular art form, Glover has forged a career in both music and film by possessing that most vital of things; aptitude. Never deterred by denial, Glover often struggled to have his voice heard when he was coming up in the dual industries.
Eventually finding fame and notoriety in both fields, as a rapper and musician under the moniker of Childish Gambino and through countless important roles on screen, Glover has forged his own path and on his own terms.
Ever since achieving such worldwide recognition, Glover has chosen his projects carefully, even suggesting that he has now retired his Childish Gambino moniker. It all points to an artist who is incredibly selective in what he puts his name to and he picked out one Kanye West album that changed his life.
The moment came when Glover was in conversation with the Toronto Sun surrounding the release of his then-new movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, a picture in which he starred as the iconic Lando Calrissian, a role many would argue he was born to play. It was a pivotal summer for the star, a time in which he also released a groundbreaking video and song title ‘This Is America’, easily one of his most arresting songs.
During the conversation, Glover refuses to be drawn on the meaning of ‘This Is America’ and, at the time, it arrived with a heavy thud and a sincere and searing comment on the Donald Trump administration. Glover’s refusal to offer up the blueprint of the song’s meaning shows, yet again, an artist who is authentic and devoted to their craft. It’s a sense of purpose reflected in his musical choices too. And, thankfully, he was keen to pick five albums to take with him to a desert island.
Glover pays homage to Kanye West but struggles to decide on a record. He eventually reaches a conclusion after the suggestions of 808s & Heartbreak, “808s is a good choice,” Glover replies, “But I’m going to go with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
If you doubt whether Kanye West is a genius, then you’ve probably stopped reading already, but this album is all the proof you need if you’re still not convinced on Ye.
Nowadays, it’s become all too common for West to talk the talk rather than walk the walk. Here, however, he emphatically delivers the goods. There’s an implicit biblical feel to the album, and every single track on the record is killer as West throws standard conventions to the wind. It is a pop album undoubtedly, but like all the best pop music, the chart had moved to him rather than Kanye consciously chasing commercial acclaim.
It’s a swaggering effort that remains the benchmark for his career and is the cultivation of West’s evolving sound across his first four records, blending to create a show-stopping work of art that became Kanye’s magnum opus.