Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You

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

Three hours of sleep over the previous 48, Glover finally found his bed at 5 a.m. on Monday morning for some semblance of a proper rest.

He woke up three hours later, stumbled into the bathroom of his new Silver Lake home, and started throwing up.

He didn't drink any whiskey the night before. It wasn't food poisoning, either. It was the pace. His work—from the clueless jock Troy on Community to the indie rapper Childish Gambino to his black-nerd stand-up—constantly needing to be fed, had just left his flesh in its wake.

Chad Griffith; Hair and makeup styling by Valissa Yoe
Chad Griffith; Hair and makeup styling by Valissa Yoe

"My body was just done," says Glover, safe in Austin. "My left arm was numb. I had to stop and sit down."

Everyone—from his manager to his mother to his Gambino co-producer—wants him to slow down. He even raps about them telling him to slow down. But he's not having it.

"You don't get to where all my heroes were without giving up a part of who you are," he says. "Right now, I refuse to even have a dog. No girlfriend. I don't want anything tying me down. I want to be everywhere. I don't see a limit for me. I want to do everything. I never thought I was this type of person: Have a good time, not a long time. As a kid, I was always afraid of dying." But now, he's driving full-speed. Pushing himself. He crashes. He gets back up. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Onstage at Red 7, you can see some ill effects of the pace at which Glover is living. His voice cracks in certain places, which he acknowledges, giving the crowd a look of promise that it will get better. He refuses to use Auto-Tune—the product of his performing-arts background—and it just adds to the sincerity of his delivery. On the last song, his best song, "Not Going Back," he encapsulates all he wants to say.

Couldn't see me as Spider-Man, but now I'm spittin' venom
Now you payin' attention, pick your fuckin' face up
When I wanna be a superhero, I just wake up
Renaissance man with a Hollywood buzz
I refuse to go back to not likin' who I was

He is currently writing two movies. He just signed on for a part in The Hand Job, and will have a cameo in the James Bobin/Jason Segel Muppets movie coming out this fall. These are all just Lego blocks of the nerd fortress Glover wants to construct.

"If one day, I can be a neo–Michael Jackson, I want that. I don't know if it is possible for someone to be that big anymore. But I want that."

And it's not as if he is looking for Elephant Man bones or backyard amusement parks. Money—even if it can land him cute girls he might have already gotten anyway—is not what's changed him. And it's not what he's after.

He's after power.

"Power is what allows you to do whatever you want," he says, getting energized again. "If Will Smith wanted to play Hitler, they'd make that movie. That's power. I want to do a Nazi movie. I want Jay-Z and Eminem to rap on the same track with me. I'm in it for the power."

It's 3:45 at Darkroom. His brother and sister went home hours ago. But as the bar begins to shut down, Glover heads off into the night with a tiny Filipino girl on his arm. When he reaches the corner of 8th and Broadway, he peers across the street and sees something moving behind a window inside the Bank of America ATM lobby.

He squints to get a better look, and spots a two-backed monster crawling over itself. The girl propped up on the deposit-slip counter, her stiletto heels in the air, her partner thrusting. Glover immediately posts photos of the public sex from his iPhone, giving a play-by-play to the world.

He chronicles the entire tryst, makes a judgment call on its conclusion, and shoots one last photo of the two lovers hailing a cab.

"The most passionate thing I've ever seen!" he Tweets.

He puts the phone away and walks his new friend back to her place, where he drops her off with a kiss. The sun starting to rise, he heads south to the Bowery. He's got another gig in Virginia in just a few hours. He might be able to snag a couple hours of sleep.

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