Getting high is there is nothing new for Childish Gambino, but on “12.38,” a highlight from his legendary album 3.15.20, Donald Glover chewing on some rooms given to him by a woman with whom he is romantically involved. It’s easy to imagine that they were hunted down somewhere in the mountains of Los Angeles, feeding each other dark chocolate with sea salt while expanding their minds. Glover moves his acting chops behind the mic to capture his partner’s look in one minute and unleashes layers upon layers of calm backbeats in the next minute, giving the song a lively feel.
Switching between André 3000’s “Vibrate” over a sensitive, minimalistic rash from DJ Dahi, Glover grabs a chorus hook for extra humor (“Why is your cat looking at me on both sides?”) , Name-dropping (Toni Braxton, SZA, Chaka Khan), and guest spots (Khadja Bonet, singer and songwriter Atia “Ink” Boggs, and 21 Savage). 21 is particularly on point here, with a guest verse that deals with new flames, new cars, and the not-so-modern scene of police brutality in less than a minute. As the song dissolves into spirals of vocal echo – perhaps the psilocybin kicking in – 21 are all the words you’re left thinking.