As a rapper, Glover has made a point of blurring the line between himself and his alter egos, between self-awareness and self-consciousness. And even this distinction is explicitly confronted: “I mean, where’s the line between Donnie G and Gambino?” he asks on his second album, “Because the Internet” (2013). Glover’s raw talent is obvious, but his obsession with explaining himself has often obstructed his ideas and undermined his jokes. And his fixation on his role as an iconoclast has, at times, rung hollow.
By the time he began making music, hip-hop was primed for figures who softened standard perceptions of black masculinity. In a world ruled by Kanye West and Drake, hyper-confessional lyrics, roving artistic appetites, wounded outsider mentalities, and unconventional backgrounds had become the default. These were qualities that pushed Glover closer to mass audiences, not away from them.
Carrie Battan, “Weird War”, The New Yorker (12 December 2016), 70.