Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You

The comedian/writer/rapper is on a collision course with stardom

Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You
Chad Griffith; Hair and makeup styling by Valissa Yoe

Red sweatshirt hood pulled tightly over his head, brown leather jacket wrapped tightly around his torso, fresh whiskey sour sweating in his hand, Donald Glover peels his way through the packed crowd in the upstairs lounge at the Lower East Side bar Pianos to the area where a lifesize panda, peering from behind a giraffe, pig, and monkey in a display window above the stairs, is staring at him.

The previous night, the 27-year-old recorded his first hour-long comedy special, Weirdo, at two sold-out shows at the 500-capacity Union Square Theatre. He flew his family in to watch. His younger brother, Stephen, Tweeted after the performance from the bar: "Watching two women fight over my brother, LOL." Glover didn't go home with either of them—he went home instead with a woman he calls "the Holy Grail," the one he tried and failed to get the entire time he lived in New York, before bolting to Hollywood two years ago.

"Why now?" Glover asks no one in particular, turning his back on the panda—its eerie eyes staring like some sort of harbinger of ill times—and gazing into the mass of bodies writhing in the center of the room, speaking as if to the Holy Grail herself. "What changed that you're making out with me now?"

What changed is that Donald Glover is blowing up.

Donald Glover, the black hipster from Stone Mountain, Georgia, who landed a gig writing for 30 Rock while still an R.A. at NYU. Donald Glover, the former Jehovah's Witness who penned some of Tracy Morgan's most classic lines as idiot savant Tracy Jordan, only to leave his Emmy-winning writing job for California and quickly snag the role of Troy Barnes, the clueless jock, on the NBC show Community. Donald Glover, the asthmatic nerd who remixed Sufjan Stevens's Illinoise album into a dreamy, chill hip-hop record and whose latest rap EP, released under the moniker Childish Gambino, has been downloaded 150,000 times. Download the Childish Gambino EP here. Donald Glover, the guy whose viral videos as the part of Derrick Comedy team have been watched 200 million times and counting.

This week, Glover embarks on the first large-scale mash-up of all of his abilities in the "I Am Donald" tour—a live show for the ADD generation that combines hip-hop, comedy, and viral sketch video. He will tour 23 cities in 33 days, including stops at the Bowery Ballroom on May 10 and Williamsburg Music Hall on May 14—both shows sold out in three hours.

Ten years ago, "I Am Donald" could never have happened. Handlers and brand managers may have allowed a guy who played a lovable character on a popular mainstream network TV show to perform hardcore, dirty-mouth stand-up, and even dirtier emo-rap—but they would have insisted he do it all on a separate stage. But the transparency and immediacy of the Web makes it possible for Glover to avoid cutting his talent into tiny pieces for his different audiences. In a sense, he has spun the TV-personality paradigm on its head—his persona is what people see on the Web, and the TV show is merely an extension.

"Because of Twitter, people don't go to my shows expecting Troy to rap," says Glover, a reference to problems other performers have encountered, like Andy Kaufman facing crowds that only wanted him to be his Latka character from Taxi.

When Glover randomly Tweeted that he wanted to audition for the role of Spider-Man in the Marc Webb reboot of the franchise, the Twitterverse began a campaign to make it so. (See Donald Glover's 10 Favorite Nerd Things.) Even if it was just PC diplomacy, both creator Stan Lee and Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis said they approved. Alas, he didn't audition, and the role went to Andrew Garfield. It was probably for the best—because even though he claims he needs just three hours of sleep a night, Glover is running at breakneck speed, criss-crossing the country fueled by ambition and whiskey and girls, heading toward a moving target that is flashing either "Next Big Thing" or "Next Tragic Hero"—all depending on how the next year plays out.

It's nearly midnight at Pianos. When he made his way through the bar downstairs, he received countless hugs from male fans. Most knew him from the television series, others knew him from the viral videos. A select few know his raps. A lot of people know him from Twitter, which he checks constantly on his iPhone throughout the night.

Glover checks his Twitter again. There are way too many bros under the tight ceiling of Pianos' second floor. He asks Twitter—"In NYC, where should I go right now to drink?"

After getting numerous responses of "My bed," from lady followers, he migrates down the street to Darkroom, where a follower promises "saucy bitches."

Glover leads his family caravan down Ludlow into the blackness that is the Darkroom. His brother comments on how damn cold it is. Glover enters the room and immediately realizes—this is where all the women on the Lower East Side have been hiding. It's a long way from Stone Mountain.

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32 comments
elysehowdershell
elysehowdershell

Thanks for the awesome article! I'm seeing Childish Gambino tonight in Asheville and I'm so excited! He was supposed to play on March 19th but the show was rescheduled so there's definitely gonna be some intense energy tonight:)

Jessica
Jessica

Makes me feel like I should be doing more with my life..

alexis
alexis

no doubt about that.

donaldfan
donaldfan

Im happy for him and I want to see him make it to the top.Hes doing it the right way.Hes putting in the time.He's going against the grain.Its unfortunate that he has to fight THIS hard because he is a black man doing things that black men arent usually permitted to do.So its going to be harder for him but hes working his ass off and its paying off in a big way.Im rooting for him.I wont be happy until "hes fucking running everything".

Christ Khodadadi
Christ Khodadadi

Why didnt I run into Donald at NYU? I remember Aziz Ansari coming into the Stern computer labs when I was working tho.

Dorklops
Dorklops

Great article, it showed a new insight into someone I follow somewhat closely. I almost went to read the comments before remembering that they often put a negative spin on everything, and who wants that? Just let it sit for a while and think about it, it gives art a greater poignancy.

GuestJ
GuestJ

How come black men prefer women of other ethnicities (white, Latinas, Asian) over black women?

The AMAZING Dik Shuttle
The AMAZING Dik Shuttle

Ok - Love Donald Glover's work. And hopefully he's a good guy, not that that necessarily really matters. But "in it for the power"? Gee, Emperor much? That's some darkside. Watch the evil, kiid.

ki
ki

"Emo emo emo". How old and out of touch is the author of this article? Please buy a vocab builder, buddy.

Devin Newton
Devin Newton

I absolutely LOVE Donald Glover. I've been following him since my sophomore year in high school (2005) and its been great to see him get better and better over the years. He is a great everything actor, writer, and rapper. Me, my brothers, and some of my friends are so happy that there is finally somebody that gets us (Black kids that love rock and other white kid stuff) and is making the world get us. Thank you Donald and much love bro!

Dave
Dave

I'm a huge Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino fan, this was a great article, very well written. I hope the world continues to be exposed to his music and his art, he is a breathe of fresh air.

RagelX
RagelX

Beautiful Article. This dude is coming up! I just hope he doesn't push himself too far and hurt himself. What other guy do you know, writes for TV (in college), makes his own music (beats and lyrics), does stand-up, and acts...all successfully?

Viva Donglover

Disco
Disco

That was a great story. I watch Community and Troy is one of my favorite characters. I had no idea he wrote for shows when he was at NYU - that's really impressive. I wish the best for him.

corie
corie

27??????? omg this kid looks 17 amazing ! very good genes lol

Cindy Cynical
Cindy Cynical

I can't agree with Cynthia F. more; this article seems to encapsulate Glover's progress up until this point. This article seems to capture exactly the person that he is: humble, sincere, and power-driven. I find him absolutely amazing and every time that I have met him, he has been as sweet as pie as if he has known me forever. He is such a great person and with all of the leaps he has made within the past year or so, I have no doubt that he will continue to entertain us for a very long time. I've been a fan of his since 2005 (when I started college) and I'm thrilled to have watched him grow and come into his own. I would've never thought the cute black guy from "Progressions of a Mad Hatter" would become the rapper Childish Gambino or nerdy type Troy on Community.

Pierresito
Pierresito

Have to agree with Cynthia, this article is amazing, and Donald is going to go far. This showed a great side of Donald, one you dont really see in other interviews, and it was refreshing and nice. I like him better than I did before, which I thought was impossible since I liked him a hell of a lot already... great stuff

Cynthia F.
Cynthia F.

Probably one of the best articles I've ever read. Seriously. The writer has a gift, man. Not to mention how human he made Donald seem, to those who see him as a God. He's still human. Who barely sleeps. Who has dreams. Who's been afraid. Who's not done living.

I enjoyed reading this. Over and over. great job to Bill Jensen and Donald.

Dwilchoc23
Dwilchoc23

It's because black women only go for a certain kind of brotha. I don't think too many black women are going for guys like Donald Glover. I have never seen it.

guest
guest

I'm down with the Black girls of every single culture

Ltplaytyme
Ltplaytyme

Coming from a Black man that likes women of other ethnicities my motivation is that I would like to conquer the world...one country at a time.

drewslugmoar
drewslugmoar

Your question is kind of stupid. I suspect you are a) a racist prick that feels threatened at every sight of a mixed color couple or b) some kid that has not thought a lot about his assumptions. Either way the correct stats are not with you. Most black men are with black women (also women of other races cannot resist a black man).

Swag-1
Swag-1

@Guestj Because MOST, not ALL black women want a thug of a black man who pays bills and respects his woman, it doesn't happen, they dont want highly educated black men who aren't thugs.

LOVE YOU DONALD

bbg
bbg

You can't just make a general statement like that, especially when it isn't true. Some of it has to do with your environment. Like he said, there weren't a lot of black people at NYU. If you're constantly surrounded by people of other races, you have to adapt to your surroundings. I wouldn't be surprised if black woman played him because of his taste in music or his affinity for the performing arts.

anon
anon

The writer has a gift? What are you talking about? This article was terribly written, if you don't see this you know nothing about writing

GuestJ
GuestJ

Ignoring your ad hominem attacks, I will reply to the second half of your post:

"Either way the correct stats are not with you. Most black men are with black women"

Yes, just as most women are with Average Joes, not hunky millionaires that plunder the high seas and sing in platinum selling rock bands when not on call in the emergency room; that is, people take what is available when it comes to partners.

"(also women of other races cannot resist a black man)."

That's certainly true. Black men commit a disproportionately high number of sexual assaults, and these black males choose to rape white women the majority of the time they commit rape*.

Oddly enough, rape is the only major crime that isn't intra-racial, blacks are most likely to murder other blacks, to violently assault other blacks, but they must travel out of their way to rape white women the majority of the time, as well as disproportionately high numbers of Hispanic and Asian women.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...

D-Rae
D-Rae

I think you may have jumped all over the reader's question a bit prematurely. GuestJ's question is not racist; I'm fairly sure what they were getting at is the popular trend in the Black dating scene that is Black men dating women of other races and passing up on the sisters. That subject is quite multi-faceted, complicated, and isn't best hashed out over an internet forum like this.

It sounds like the question from GuestJ was coming from a place of frustration, either as a Black woman has been passed up for a White girl, or as a Black man who doesn't get why someone would wan't to stray from dating other Black women because we are so lovely. Either way, I don't like the original question that was posted, as it presupposes that interracial dating is some sort of problem. It's not. Ugh, fuck rap cool.

cdeeq
cdeeq

you're forgetting that there are a lot of highly educated black women who aren't quasi-members of destiny's child. i think donald just dates women who make themselves available. numbers-wise, there are just not a lot of black women around.

Scott G.Brown
Scott G.Brown

White women are at his disposal more readily than black women, and he has risen to Stardom which is enough to put any woman on the chase.When I saw him on 30 Rock, I thought that he was from India, and he was only miles from where I was born. He has the Poise, Youth, and Talent that many desire-Break a Leg, Donald Glover! Fly to the Moon!

 
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