Who is Donald Glover? Well for starters, he's Childish Gambino: the best rapper that you might not have heard of (Stop reading this article right now and familiarize yourself with Gambino. Do it. Listen to this... this... and this.)
Okay, welcome back. Before Glover broke out in the rap game, he was a kid from Stone Mountain, Georgia. He wrote for the NBC comedy 30 Rock before joining the cast of NBC's Community as Troy Barnes, a goofy ex-jock with a childlike love for LeVar Burton. He's also one of the funniest stand-up comics out there (his special Weirdo, which is very NSFW, is one of the funniest stand-up routines I've ever seen). Honestly, you could tell me that he's also a master architect and it wouldn't shock me because he seems to be good at anything he puts his mind to.
During his run on Community, his rap career would take off with the release of his debut album Camp. It was a good album, but his follow up Because the Internet is where the Donald Glover we see today first started to take shape. The album was nominated for a Grammy for "Best Rap Album" in 2015 (it got robbed, losing out to Eminem's awful The Marshall Mathers LP 2). In it, per XXL Magazine, "He ditches the goofy-comedic rap lyrics with introspective bars that tell a story about a boy who is trying to find himself in life..." This brings us to his new FX dramedy Atlanta (Tuesday nights at 10pm).
Atlanta is the story of Earnest "Earn" Marks and his attempts to manage the rap career of his cousin Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles, but it's way more than that. It's about the African American experience, the relationship of that community with the police, white people being a little too comfortable with the N-word, struggling to get by, being a young father, living with the mother of your child and watching her go on dates, disappointing your parents, and actually getting sauce on Lemon Pepper wings (The show hits a home run with that reference. THEY NEVER HAVE ENOUGH SAUCE ON THEM!). In the first two episodes that aired on Tuesday night, there were references to Atlanta strip clubs (Magic City and Follies), DeKalb County, J.R. Crickets, Edgewood, Fox 5 News, and more, but they aren't thrown in your face. The show is called Atlanta (and Atlantans will catch a lot of the subtle references), but it's more about life.
One of my favorite scenes took place on a MARTA bus. Earn was holding his daughter and a man sits down next to him and starts talking to him. It seemed like it could have been a day dream, but the man says, "Resistance is a symptom of the way things are, not the way things should be. Actual victory belongs to things that simply do not see failure." The quote fit the scene well because Earn had just gone to great lengths to get his cousin's track on the radio and he was waiting to hear back from Paper Boi to see if he would let him be his manager.
Another great scene involved Earn sitting in jail waiting to get bailed out (he and Paper Boi got locked up as suspects in a shooting, which the show does a great job of masking what actually happened in that incident). While in holding, a crazy man comes in and starts drinking out of the toilet. Someone tells Earn that this guy is in there all the time, and Earn comments that he needs help, not to be in jail. The crazy man is approached by a white police officer who starts to joke around with him. The jokes stop when the crazy man spits some of the toilet water on the officer and said officer starts whaling on him with a night stick.
This show will certainly be about way more than the city of Atlanta and two guys trying to make it in the rap game. In the evolution of his career in the entertainment industry, Glover has become much deeper. He started out being the goofy guy on Community and referencing Invader Zim in his lyrics, but now, he's tackling much bigger issues. If this show takes off like I think it can, a relative unknown from Stone Mountain could become Atlanta's next favorite son (Big Boi and Andre 3000 not withstanding).