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Gambino Grooves at Madison Square

Rapper%2C+DJ+and+actor+Childish+Gambino+performs+during+his+ongoing+This+Is+America+Tour+at+Madison+Square+Garden.+%28Courtesy+of+Isha+Khawaja%29
Rapper, DJ and actor Childish Gambino performs during his ongoing This Is America Tour at Madison Square Garden. (Courtesy of Isha Khawaja)

Rapper, DJ and actor Childish Gambino performs during his ongoing This Is America Tour at Madison Square Garden. (Courtesy of Isha Khawaja)

Rapper, DJ and actor Childish Gambino performs during his ongoing This Is America Tour at Madison Square Garden. (Courtesy of Isha Khawaja)


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By Isha Khawaja

“Everyone put down your phones and cameras. This is a religious experience,” says Childish Gambino as he stands at the forefront of Madison Square Garden on the second night of his This Is America Tour.

According to Rolling Stone, this is Childish Gambino’s final tour performing under his stage moniker.

While Gambino released his new songs, “Spirits” and “Algorythm,” we are waiting to see what Gambino or Donald Glover will unveil in the next phase of his musical career.

Gambino began the show standing tall with his head tilted down towards the stage while a sharp white beam glowed behind him.

The moment he lifted his head and began to sing “Algorythm,” the crowd roared. As the music began to pick up the pace, Gambino was soon singing his iconic falsettos and dancing his signature spins.

Gambino did not perform any music from his first album Camp. Fans often criticised the artist for fetishizing Asian women and defaming Black women in his early work.

The choice of not playing his early music shows a shift in the content he pushes and a sign of personal growth.

The show felt like a compromise between what Gambino desired to perform versus what the audience wanted to hear.

Gambino began the show by playing some of his newer releases from “Awaken, My Love!” with songs like “Have Some Love,” “Boogieman” and “Riot.”

The audience sang along and collectively swayed their bodies as a rhythmic and soulful funk vibrated through the stadium.

Gambino also performed classic fan favorites from Because the Internet like “I. The Worst Guys,” “IV. Sweatpants” and “3005.”

As Gambino finished singing “Feels Like Summer,” with the red hue glistening on his sweat drenched body, the stadium lights turned off and the arena went black. Suddenly, white lights flash as his new song “Spirits” plays.

As I’m trying to recall which album this track came from, Gambino says, “This is just a new one I’ve been working on.”  The stadium then cheered in wild excitement.

Gambino finished his set with “This Is America” and showcased his backup dancers, wearing Catholic school uniforms, jumping into splits, milly-rocking and aerial flipping at the finale of the show.

The camera crew followed him backstage and he wiped his sweat with a towel as the stadium chanted, “Encore!” He cupped his ear with his hand and encouraged the crowd to cheer for him to come back out.

Once I felt a ringing in my ears, Gambino came back out and performed the iconic stadium chants like “Sober” and “V. 3005.”

He finished the encore with an extended version of “Redbone” and the stadium soulfully sang together.

Although I was high up in the nosebleed seats, the quality of his music from “Awaken, My Love!” was sounded better live than when I listen to it on Spotify.

Gambino embodied the essence of soul and funk with his songs like “Boogieman” and “Redbone.” Additionally, his dancing paid homage to Michael Jackson.

The way Gambino shimmied his shoulders and thrust his hips is as unique to him as the moonwalk was to Michael Jackson.

While I was slightly disappointed that songs like “California” and “Bonfire” did not make the setlist, the chosen songs felt like a combination of Gambino fulfilling his artistic self-expression while also satisfying the crowd.

Rapper, DJ and actor Childish Gambino performs during his ongoing This Is America Tour at Madison Square Garden. (Courtesy of Isha Khawaja).

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Gambino Grooves at Madison Square