Donald Glover had a successful 2015. He appeared in films such as The Martian, Magic Mike XXL and The Lazarus Effect on the heels of his longstanding role in the TV series Community. Glover's rap alter ego, Childish Gambino, however, has been notably absent since the highly praised 2013 album Because the Internet and the 2014 followup, STN MTN/Kauai.
Though Glover the actor is slated to return to television in 2016, the short- and long-term future of his rap identity still remains a mystery. Glover will return to TV in the summer with a new FX series, Atlanta, which he created and will executive produce and star in, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show will focus on Glover's character, Earnest "Earn" Marks, a loner who returns to his native city of Atlanta and discovers that his cousin is moving up in the rap scene. To give an indication of the show's tone, Glover described it as "Twin Peaks with rappers," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
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The show could, in part, serve as a reflection of Glover's own life, as he left Atlanta for New York City to pursue a career in the creative arts at New York University and then as a writer for the Emmy-winning NBC series 30 Rock. Atlanta can also serve as an interesting contrast to the ever-popular series on the music industry, Empire. While Empire provides a perspective for how the industry is for those at the top, Atlanta will center on Glover's character and his cousin's ascension.
"I know it's going to be very easy for people to say, 'It's a black Mecca,' and it is, but I just think that it's the most American place," Glover said, according to Deadline. "Everybody there is like 'Yo, I got a verse.' Everybody is trying to make something from nothing."
Conversely, on the music scene, Glover has remained relatively quiet. Last year, he said the era of Childish Gambino might be ending, though he hasn't made any concrete plans to rid himself of the rap persona. Most recently, he was featured on the Creed soundtrack in a song titled "Waiting For My Moment." In that sense, the musical side of Glover remains intact.
Even if Childish Gambino never returns, Glover will remain a force in the media space, whether it's through television, film or music. Glover will continue to make his mark on entertainment and pop culture, and because he's a man of many talents, perhaps not in the ways fans are accustomed to.