Top 10 Childish Gambino Songs

Childish Gambino Songs

Photo: Debby Wong Shutterstock

Our top 10 Childish Gambino songs list presents the music of an American artist famed for his all-around career in the entertainment industry. Besides singing and rapping, Childish Gambino is an actor, writer, comedian, producer, and director. Surprisingly, none of his parents were in the entertainment industry. His father was a postal worker, while the mother was a daycare provider. Childish Gambino’s zeal has seen him grow from a mediocre arts student to one of the biggest brands in the entertainment industry.

His musical career started at the New York University School of Arts, where he self-produced his debut independent mixtape in 2006. While he disowned it, The Younger I Get introduced him to the music scene. Soon after, he started DJing, choosing the stage name mcDJ. As a DJ, he remixed the album Illinois (2005) by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens.

Before venturing into the music career in 2008, he needed to use a new stage name other than mcDJ. He settled for the moniker Childish Gambino, a name suggested by a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. Childish Gambino went on to release an independent mixtape Sick Boi (2008). In 2009, he was back in the studio to record his next mixtape, Poindexter. It was a tough start for his musical career, but Childish Gambino never gave up. The next year he released three mixtapes, I Am Just a Rapper, I Am Just A Rapper 2, and Culdesac.

Childish Gambino released his debut extended play titled EP in 2011. The five-song EP preceded the release of Childish Gambino’s debut studio album Camp (2011). “Bonfire” was his debut track featured on Camp (2011). One of his best performing tracks from the album was “Heartbeat.” The song reached number fifty-four on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Camp (2011) peaked at number eleven on the Billboard 200, selling over fifty thousand copies in its first week of release.

With his music career seemingly promising, Childish Gambino hit the studio to release another mixtape Royalty in 2012. During this time, he was featured in “Trouble” by British R&B, soul, and pop artist Leona Lewis. Childish Gambino scored his first top ten appearance on the UK Singles Chart with this song. He released his sophomore album inspired by the success and fame he was already amassing.

Because the Internet (2013) rose to number seven on the Billboard 200. Creative Childish Gambino penned a short film under the title Clapping for the Wrong Reasons to promote his sophomore album. The short film featured himself, Danielle Fishel, and Chance the Rapper. Some of the musical gems in the album include “Sweatpants,” “3005,” and “Crawl.”

Childish Gambino was featured on “Bed Peace” by Jhené Aiko, released on her debut EP. He later directed the music video for Jhené Aiko’s “The Pressure,” a hit featured on her debut album Souled Out (2014). As 2014 neared its end, Childish Gambino released yet another mixtape, STN MTN, home to his successful single “Sober.”

His tremendous input in the music scene saw him nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2015. The first nomination was under the Best Rap Album category for the sophomore album Because the Internet (2013). Childish Gambino lost the award to The Marshall Mathers LP 2 by Eminem. His second nomination was under the Best Rap Performance for the track “3005.” “3005” lost the award to Kendrick Lamar’s “I.”

Childish Gambino released his third studio album Awaken, My Love! in 2016. While his previous releases were mostly filled with hip-hop elements, this album saw him embrace the funk, psychedelic soul, and R&B music. Awaken, My Love! (2016) was Platinum-certified, rising to number five on the Billboard 200. The album was nominated for two Grammy Awards in the Best Urban Contemporary Album and Album of the Year. One of the most reputable hits from the album “Redbone” was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning the Best Traditional R&B Performance accolade.

In early 2018, Childish Gambino released his most successful single, “This is America.” The song won all its nominated categories in the 2019 Grammy Awards ceremony. It marked the first time a rap track won the Song of the Year and Record of the Year awards. Later music releases by Childish Gambino included the EP Summer Pack (2018) and his fourth studio album 3.15.20 (2020). Throughout his career, Childish Gambino has released songs that feature hip-hop, soul, psychedelia, R&B, soul, funk, and indie-pop elements. Here we present the best Childish Gambino songs of all time.

#10 – Bonfire

Ushering us to the top 10 Childish Gambino songs is the hit “Bonfire.” The hip-hop song served as his debut single released on his album Camp (2011). “Bonfire” attracted many people towards Childish Gambino’s music career. The song’s bars feel a little heavy/hardcore compared to other releases he made later in his career. His raspy vocals and belligerent rapping on the song saw critics compare him to other hip-hop artists such as Lil Wayne.

#9 – Terrified

“Terrified” is one of the most successful hits from Childish Gambino’s third studio album, Awaken, My Love! (2016). Unlike the usual hip-hop vibe most of his songs feature, “Terrified” prominently features psychedelic funk elements. The song finds Childish Gambino singing about his paranoia about falling in love. He goes on to plead with the woman not to leave him.

In some way, “Terrified” compares to his hit “California,” which finds him expressing his fear of being a dad. Childish Gambino performed “Terrified” live during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony.

#8 – Heartbeat

Coming in at number eight is the hit “Heartbeat.” The song is featured on his debut album Camp (2011). This hip-hop song features some house elements thanks to the use of electro beats, making it one of his few hip-house tracks. Its lyrics allude to the intricate emotions that come from getting intimate with those you don’t love but still mess around with those you treasure.

#7 – The Worst Guys ft. Chance the Rapper

“The Worst Guys” is a collaborative track between American rappers Childish Gambino and Chance the Rapper. The song is featured in his sophomore album Because the Internet (2013). While Chance the Rapper doesn’t have a verse on this hit, he teams up with Childish Gambino on the song’s chorus and outro.

#6 – Me and Your Mama

Number six on our top 10 Childish Gambino songs is the hit “Me and Your Mama.” The song is featured on the album Awaken, My Love! (2016). Once more, Childish Gambino tries out something more than just hip-hop. “Me and Your Mama” features psychedelic rock and psychedelic soul elements, reminding rock lovers of sounds of bands such as Funkadelic and Parliament. The song helped Childish Gambino attain new levels of success with his genre-spanning album Awaken, My Love! (2016). “Me and Your Mama” peaked at number sixty-eight on the Billboard Hot 100.

#5 – Sweatpants

Because the Internet (2013) is home to our number five best Childish Gambino song, “Sweatpants.” The song finds the rapper bringing on the theme of opulence living. However, the subject in the song seems to be an alter-ego/character rather than Childish Gambino himself. He revealed that the song alludes to how rich people wear almost anything without worrying about the code stated for an event.

Sadly, no one can mention a thing about it since their wealth demands respect and fear in equal measures. “Sweatpants” managed to rank twenty-fourth on the Billboard Under Hot 100 Singles chart.

#4 – 3005

“3005” is a hip-hop track featured on Childish Gambino’s sophomore studio album Because the Internet (2013). Delivered in a contemplative tune, “3005” alludes to existential matters where Childish Gambino speaks of his worry of being lonely. The song served as the lead single to the album Because the Internet (2013). “3005” rose to number sixty-four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

#3 – Feels Like Summer

Coming in at number three is the hit “Feels Like Summer.” Also titled “42.26,” “Feels Like Summer” was first featured on Childish Gambino’s third EP Summer Pack (2018). Later, it was featured on his fourth studio album, 3.15.20 (2020). The song finds the artist covering several social and environmental problems the world currently faces.

“Feels Like Summer” peaked at number fifty-four on the Billboard Hot 100 and sixty-four on the UK Singles Chart. The song was nominated for a Grammys under the Best R&B Song category. However, it lost to “Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai. “Boo’d Up” also won the 2019 Grammy Award for the Song of the Year.

#2- Redbone

The psychedelic funk track “Redbone” is one of the musical gems from Awaken, My Love! (2016). Childish Gambino and Ludwig Göransson penned the song. Its lyrics allude to infidelity and paranoia in a relationship with his caramel girlfriend. The song rose to number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number fifty-one on the UK Singles Chart. “Redbone” was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning in the Best Traditional R&B Performance category.

#1- This is America

Number one on our top 10 Childish Gambino songs list is the hit “This is America.” Despite being released as a single, the song beat all odds to stamp its dominance as the best Childish Gambino song of all time. The song’s lyrics allude to social problems in the US, including racism, discrimination, mass shootings, and gun violence.

“This is America” features background vocals of 21 Savage, BlocBoy JB, Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd, and Quavo of Migos. The song reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the UK Singles Chart. “This is America” won four out of four Grammy Awards nominations in 2019. The accolades included Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Music Video, and Best Rap Sung Performance.

Top 10 Childish Gambino Songs   article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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