"I won't stop until they say, 'James Franco is the white Donald Glover.'"
- Childish Gambino, "Hold You Down."
Donald Glover is a mighty impressive man. I don't really have a crush on the dude, but I'm mighty appreciative of what he's contributed to the world. He's written for 30 Rock and the Daily Show, stars in Community, is a hilarious stand-up comic, and is a pretty frickin' incredible musician. I admire him. It's people like him that the world should know. I'm starting to think that Donald Glover and James Franco are the universe's equal and opposite reaction to famous people who are famous for being famous. They are the universe's way of balancing out pretty much everything MTV and VH1 have done to us. More after the break.
I first heard of Donald Glover from Community. I could post a billion clips (and already posted a bunch in the previous post), so I'll just skip that... The show's funny, and he's a big part of that.
After I became a big Community fan, I started reading about everyone on the show. (When I like something, I like to know as much as I can. I'm the dude who listens to audio commentaries. I'm a nerd, what?) I saw that he had just put out an album called Camp under the alias, Childish Gambino, which he got from the Wutang name generator. Something funny about that.
Community's Spanish 101 Rap. No, it's not a comedy album. It's... well, I'll discuss it more in a bit. The first song I listened to was "Bonfire," and he goes hard. I liked it (and the video) a lot.
Truth though... To me, it kinda sounds a lot like Li'l Wayne's 6 Foot 7 Foot. This isn't a bad thing.
Now, I don't think I'm even close to qualified to review a hip hop album. I have no pedigree... at all. But I like this album. Two things struck me immediately: he is lyrically talented and he's completely truthful. His music is honest and clever. The beats aren't anything revolutionary, but the powerful words shine through. "Bonfire" isn't the best example for that. Try "Outside." Now, it's not a totally heavy album about one's insecurities, but when the current state of hip hop seems to be "This is how awesome I am," small doses of a strong man admitting shortcomings is kind of refreshing.
It takes a lot of courage to put all your thoughts and feelings, your motivations and disappointments... takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that. And the album ends with a story of how he got to be that way. It's a really engaging story that takes place when he was 13yo. I highly suggest you listen...
Spoiler alert: He told a girl that he liked how he felt about her, and she ended up telling a bus full of people about it... It ends with this:
This isn’t a story about how girls are evil or how love is bad. This is a story about how I learned something, and I’m not saying this thing is true or not. I’m just saying it’s what I learned. I told you something. It was just for you, and you told everybody. So I learned cut out the middle man. Make it all for everybody. Always. Everybody can’t turn around and tell everybody. Everybody already knows. I told them. But this means there isn't a place in my life for you or someone like you. Is it sad? Sure. But it's a sadness I chose. I wish I could say this was a story about how I got on the bus a boy and got off a man more cynical, hardened, and mature and shit. But that’s not true. The truth is I got on the bus a boy. And I never got off the bus. I still haven't
Now, I don't regret that I grew up with girls that wouldn't do that, but I think it'd be kind of cool to have that attitude. It's like a badass, superhero origin story. I can listen to this story over and over because it kind of gives me inspiration to be truthful. To have the attitude to just fucking say what I wanna say.
Oh, and "Heartbeat" is fucking fantastic.
And just to close this on a happier note... Donald Glover is also a hilarious stand up comic, and I've spent the past few nights listening to his stuff.
Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Black People and Vampires
Crazy Women Stories vs. Crazy Men Stories
Spider-Man and Michael Cera as Shaft
Cheating in Dreams
So, in conclusion... Donald Glover is awesome. If you have the opportunity to see him perform in any capacity, I think it'd be a good investment.