Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You

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

He can go from a suck-a-dick verse ("When rappers start rappin' over indie shit/Just remember I was first to hit this shit") to a child just trying to fit in ("I coulda been a tragedy/That's why these fake niggas who call me 'pussy' are 'mad' at me/'Cause they ain't have the smarts or the heart/Ain't you read the fuckin' book, Things Fall Apart?") to a wailing, hopeless, and hurting romantic ("I don't wanna be alone/'Cause you know/Somewhere inside/I cannot find/The feeling I got from you").

It's a bit schizophrenic—but much like how Glover doesn't separate his TV persona from his Web persona, he doesn't care to compartmentalize. For this, he has his detractors. Satirical cultural critic Hipster Runoff teased him by wondering if the "blipster" is too eager to "make it as a buzz band" (in a review of a Voice review). The AV Club picked apart his album Culdesac as "a collection of good ideas that still need to be finessed into a strong statement," attacking the wild range of emotions and personality from song to song. But that's exactly the point. "Fuck Rap Cool," the hashtag Glover often adds to his Tweets, is the one tattoo to be etched on him at this stage in his career.

In his raps, he makes frequent mention of his manhood. His propensity for thick women, particularly of Asian descent, is well-documented, and on one track he gives a shout-out to e.e. cummings—you can fill in the rest. But in between, he's rapping about alienation, trying to fit in, getting girls to like him. Nerdy emo with a fro. Name-dropping Greedo and Inspector Gadget one minute, then laying something like, "Whiskey-sippin'/Wanna drink the whole bottle/But these smart middle-class black kids need a role model" the next.

"So many black kids Tweeted me about that line," says Glover. "This is the first time in history we are able to talk about alienation and nerd things. Black kids do like white stuff. Arcade Fire were at the top of iTunes—it ain't all white people listening to them." He represents a new archetype of entertainer—a black nerd who can like white stuff. Not a black nerd in the over-the-top Steve Urkel or Dwayne Wayne sense, but a regular black guy who likes the same stuff white people like—but just happens to be more talented than you.

The black middle-class kid is a real thing. Earlier that night, before heading to Pianos, around the table of Boka Bon Chon with his two biological siblings, brother Stephen and sister Brianne, and high school friend Lauren, the conversation turns to race—who can say the N-word and who can't. "He was voiced by a black dude," he wonders out loud. "So is it OK for Darth Vader to say the N-word?" He quickly Tweets the question out to the world.

"During the whole Spider-Man thing, the only thing that ever hurt my feelings was this one comment. The guy said, 'Look, I love you. I think you're great. But let's be honest: There are no black kids like Peter Parker,' " he says, shaking his head. "There are!"

And Glover will let us all in on a little secret: His first taste of rap wasn't NWA. Or Run-D.M.C. Or even Eminem. No, his first taste of rap was guys like Fred Durst.

"They say there's no place in hip-hop if you're in the suburbs," he says. "Kanye is a suburban kid. The struggle is finding your place."

While in his senior year at NYU, Glover got an e-mail from David Miner with the message "I heard you write." Miner had gotten his name from Tina Fey, who got it from Amy Poehler, who got it from his teacher at Upright Citizens Brigade.

They asked him for some writing samples. He sent the spec script he wrote for The Simpsons, along with one for Everybody Hates Chris, along with some sketches he had written.

Miner and 30 Rock co-creator Fey liked them. Not yet having graduated from NYU, he was now a writer on 30 Rock.

While Glover is often cited as a driving force behind a lot of Tracy Morgan's best lines, his first joke to make it on the show was a punchline for Kenneth, the white hayseed NBC page—whom he says he actually most identifies with, if anything because of the fact that both (fictional white clueless guy and real black nerdy guy) hail from the same town: Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Eager to perform as well as write, Glover started doing stand-up. In the beginning, he took advice from Tracy Morgan: "Talk about penises—dudes loves that." And later, advice from Chris Rock: "What the hell was that!? It looked like you went onstage and said 'dick' for 45 minutes."

Meanwhile, he continued to mix beats and rap and, with his Derrick partners, produced and starred in the Encyclopedia Brown send-up indie film Mystery Team. But he wanted more. In 2008, he auditioned to play Obama as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, but didn't get the part. At the end of the third season of 30 Rock, he told Fey he wanted out. She gave him her blessing, and he left the most stable and secure thing he had, packed up the Derrick team in a two-car caravan, and headed to L.A., moving to Beverly Hills Adjacent, in an apartment building that also housed a brothel and a dentist's office.

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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?

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).

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.

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!

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

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.

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.

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.

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

 
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