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Childish Gambino with Donald Glover and Vince Staples at Gila River Arena

December 15, 2018 @ 8:00 pm - 11:30 pm

Childish Gambino is the hip-hop alter ego of multi-hyphenate American entertainer Donald Glover, who is also known for acting roles on television shows like Community and the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Atlanta, as well as the film Solo: A Star Wars Story. As Childish GambinoGloverrefined his off-kilter brand of hip-hop on his 2013 breakthrough album Because the Internet, before making a sharp turn toward R&B-inspired funk, which won him a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2017 for the single, “Redbone.” In 2018, his politically-charged song “This Is America” debuted at number one atop the Billboard Hot 100, buoyed by a viral music video that addressed gun violence and racial injustice.

While studying at NYU, Glover joined the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, which caught the attention of Tina Fey, who hired him in 2006 to write for 30 Rock. Three years later he left that job to move to Los Angeles and was soon cast on the sitcom Community. The year before, he had released his first mixtape, Sick Boi, under the moniker Childish Gambino, which was conceived by an online Wu-Tang Clan name generator. His next mixtape, Poindexter, was released on September 19, 2009, the same day Community premiered on NBC. While his brainy, sometimes goofy rapping style was established by these two mixtapes, his next efforts sought to expand his reach and touch on more serious subjects.

Along with guesting on tracks by Kilo KishChance the RapperYoung Dro, and Kenna, his next move was to reduce his commitment to Community in order to focus more on his music and other projects, most notably a production deal with the TBS network. He left the show for good in 2013, and that same year released his second album, Because the Internet. The record featured appearances by Chance the RapperJhené Aiko, and Azealia Banks, and scored Childish Gambino a Top Ten debut chart placement, a gold record, and a nomination for Best Rap Album at the 2015 Grammy Awards. Glover kept up the same determined pace he always had, and in 2015 released a new mixtape, STN MTN (named for Stone Mountain, Georgia, where he grew up), and EP, Kauai, both of which showed him expanding his sound, with the latter featuring more singing than before. His next big project was creating and starring in Atlanta, a well-received comedic drama set in the titular city. The show debuted in September of 2016 and was an instant commercial success. Glover would direct a handful of episodes, later winning an Emmy for his directorial efforts. In addition to winning a Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, Atlanta also scored Glover a Best Actor statue.

In late 2016, Glover began dropping hints about a new album, playing a festival in California where he debuted new songs. The first taste of his new sonic direction arrived with “Me and Your Mama.” It was a new sound cooked up by Glover and longtime producer Ludwig Göransson, based on deeply weird late-’60s and early-’70s psychedelic funk and soul like Sly & the Family Stone and Funkadelic. Peaking in the top five of the Billboard 200 upon release in late 2017, the critically lauded “Awaken, My Love!” featured Glover forgoing his trademark rap style in favor of stretching his vocal range in a variety of styles. The album’s soulful single “Redbone” was also a hit, peaking just outside the Hot 100 and adding Grammy winner to Glover‘s résumé.

Switching back to acting for a stint, Glover was featured in Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017 and cast as Lando Calrissian in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. As promotion for that film was underway, Gloverhosted Saturday Night Live and performed as Childish Gambino. He debuted the trap-indebted song “This Is America,” which quickly became a viral hit for its controversial music video and politically charged lyrics. The track debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 in May 2018.

An American rapper and member of the Cutthroat Boyz crew, Vince Staples surfaced in the early 2010s with a spate of promising appearances on Odd Future-related recordings — including Earl Sweatshirt‘s “epaR,” Mike G‘s “Moracular World” and Award Tour EP, the Jet Age of Tomorrow‘s “Lunchbox,” and Domo Genesis‘ “Elimination Chamber” — as well as the 2011 mixtape Shyne Goldchain. In 2012, the rapper released Winter in Prague, a mixtape issued as a free download with the production work handled entirely by Michael Uzowuru. A darker, more introspective mixtape, Stolen Youth, arrived in 2013 with a co-billing to Larry Fisherman (a Mac Miller alias) and verses from Ab-SoulScHoolboy QMac Miller (as Mac Miller), and Cutthroat Boyz partner Joey FattsStaples then performed as the opening act on Miller‘s Space Migration tour. Among Staples‘ assists in 2013 were verses on Earl Sweatshirt‘s Doris and Jhené Aiko‘s “The Vapors.” The rapper continued his steady ascent in 2014 with a fourth mixtape, Shyne Goldchain, Vol. 2, and contributions to Common‘s Nobody’s Smiling — specifically on the key single “Kingdom,” as well as on the deluxe edition bonus track “Out on Bond.”

His debut album, Summertime ’06, landed in 2015 with production from Clams Casino and No ID. It rose to number three on the Billboard R&B/hip-hop chart and was selected as one of the top albums of 2015 on many notable year-end lists. The following summer, Staples released Prima Donna, a seven-track EP that featured A$AP Rocky and Kilo Kish. Again breaking into the Top Ten on the R&B/hip-hop chart, the EP featured production by James Blake and an accompanying short film. In 2017, in addition to featuring on the Gorillaz album HumanzStaples issued his sophomore album, Big Fish Theory. The effort featured contributions by Bon IverKilo KishJuicy JDamon AlbarnKendrick LamarSophieFlumeRick RossA$AP RockyTy Dolla $ign, and more. The critically acclaimed effort peaked in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200, Top R&B/hip-hop, and rap albums charts. Staples followed with an appearance on the Gorillaztrack “Ascension” and “Opps” from the chart-topping soundtrack to the film Black Panther. In late 2018, Staples surprised fans with the unannounced release of his taut and immediate third album, FM! The album featured guests Earl SweatshirtTygaTy Dolla $ignKamaiyahKehlani, and many more.