To know Donald Glover is to love his music. This may come as a shock to some who have only heard about him from his many other projects; Donald puts out his music independently under the name Childish Gambino. And while you may not find his tracks on the radio (yet) they’ve been all over the blogosphere for a while now and a new EP is coming out on March 8. We had a chance to catch up with this outspoken rising star, and we think you’ll dig it!
LF: How did you start rapping?
DG: I’ve been rapping since I was a kid. I would do it for fun at the table in school and one of my friends would start (he does a beat on the table). I went to a performing arts high school because my teacher said I was too rambunctious. I needed to release some of that stuff and performing arts school did it for me. So I started writing plays and doing music.
LF: Is it true that you got Childish Gambino from the Wu Tang name generator?
DG: Yeah – I met the Rza and he was like “Where’d you get your name from?” and I said actually it was from one of your name generators. And he goes “That’s a perfect name for you – Childish Gambino! It’s like the computer had a brain!.” I thought that was pretty awesome.
LF: You auditioned for SNL, right? Did you rap for Lorne Michaels?
DG: I auditioned twice. I didn’t rap. I did do an R. Kelly impersonation though.
LF: The Internet has started an alleged feud with you and the guys from Lonely Island. What’s up with that?
DG: We’re friends. There is a line on the Culdesac album “Cause this joke rap shit has gotten out of hand The only ones who do it well are Lonely Island”
– That’s the truth. I think they are really good. Mother Lover is one of my favorite songs. It’s better than Dick In a Box. I’ll just play it and… (he starts singing). They make their stuff so listenable. It’s genius. And it’s obvious they love it. I know there are some other articles that made some sort of a feud up about Derrick Comedy and Lonely Island but no, we’re friends. I love those guys.
LF: Well then I’m going to go ahead and put it out there: A Lonely Island/Childish Gambino rap battle needs to happen ASAP.
DG: I’ve got to be honest, now I really want to do it.
LF: How does it feel to be such a pioneer for all of this new technology?
DG: It’s funny. A lot of people always think that people who pioneer stuff set out to do that. “Oh the Internet was created? Let’s do something brave!” It’s usually someone was doing something and then this thing comes along and they use it. Derrick comedy was never about “Internet comedy.” We were doing sketch and the Internet was there. And YouTube was free.
LF: You’re pretty popular on Twitter. Any stories?
DG: I’ve met so many cool people from Twitter… Like Questlove (from The Roots) and I are friends now! He got me into the Kanye concert in New York. The only reason I went is because I messaged him… That would’ve never happened without Twitter. I didn’t know Questlove before – I do now!
Twitter is also the first technology that I think older people are better at because there is no filter. My Dad’s Twitter feed is hysterical. He has over 3,000 followers. It’s like Kathy for men. It’s him tweeting about bills, his kids, and foods he can’t eat because he has high cholesterol. It is the funniest shit. I love his twitter feed.
LF: You were at fashion week. How was it?
DG: The Band Of Outsiders show was awesome. I was supposed to see Y-3 but I ended up getting fitted, going to the Band of Outsiders show, the after party, and then bed.
LF: You tweeted next to Anna Wintour at the Band of Outsiders show. Did she compliment your swagger?
DG: She didn’t say anything. I made it very clear, I didn’t want anything to do with her. I was very terrified. I’m sure she would’ve been fine if I was like “I’m a big fan of everything you do,” but it’s Anna Wintour! I didn’t say shit.
LF: You also tweeted during Fashion Week that Kanye told you he wanted to “stick his dick in his own tracks.” How did you respond to that?
DG: That’s the thing-It must be hard being Kanye because you’ve got to think of new ways to surprise people. Because I heard that and was like “Yeah, that sounds like Kanye.” Like if my grandma said that I’d be like “Grandma! What are you talking about your penis for?!” But it’s Kanye so you’re like “Dope, of course you want to stick your dick in my new track”.
LF: It still must’ve been great to hear from Kanye West.
DG: He’s a workaholic. I look up to him. He sleeps in the studio. If you work that hard you want your music to be that good. I listen to my music all the time. And some people might think that’s weird… I only make songs that I really like. The songs that I don’t listen to over and over again I don’t put on the album. Those are the tracks on albums that you wonder “Why did they put that on there? It sucks.” You know it sucks. People get scared or they’re not sure about songs.
DG: Like with “Freaks and Geeks” – I made that song two months ago and it sounded totally different. I kept playing it over and over and sent it to people and they’d be like “…it’s good.” But no one thought it was the shit and no ones faces blew off over it. So I got rid of everything and was just listening to the beat with my hand on my keyboard, trying to find stuff. I started playing and I thought, “This feels really good”. It’s like sex. It is. All of sudden you’re doing everything, you’re feeling your way through it and suddenly you know what you’re doing and it feels awesome.
LF: How does a song come together? Who did you make this album with?
DG: Beat always come first and that really implies how the song is. I make all of my own beats. My buddy Ludwig co-produces some of them with me. He’s this guy that works on Community. He’s a genius. With the new album we both looked at the album as a whole and put it together.
LF: Childish Gambino is a part of this new kind of hip-hop that is fresh and thought provoking.
DG: My new comparison is – Rap that people are used to is like 3-camera sitcom. Ya know? The audience gets a cue and they know they’re supposed to laugh. It’s mostly “I fuck bitches and sell drugs” (not to say that those are bad or good) but you know what it’s already about when you hear it. When you hear a 50 cent song, you know what you’re getting. That’s the point of it. I feel like my music is more single camera sitcom. Upcoming artists like Das Racist, Childish Gambino, Kid Cudi or Odd Future – You listen to it and its like “Are they serious?” The point is to get you thinking. “Is that line a joke?” It’s asking the listener to do more work. And are you having fun? Rap used to be about silliness and how crazy something someone said was.
LF: You put out this new album all by yourself too, right?
DG: Yeah, people always have a hard time believing it. People called Culdesac a mixtape. It’s not a mixtape. I spent time on all fifteen of those tracks.
LF: Why do you think music that is given to people isn’t as respected or well received?
DG: Well first of all- if all music was given away, the music industry would fall apart… I don’t think people believe music can be cheap and effective. Making an album is expensive if you don’t love what you’re doing. I take time out to do it, and time is money. I bought a new computer and all of this stuff for the album because I love it so much. I’ve got to get better. It’s my passion project. It’s hard for people to understand why the music is free. It’s this weird battle going on with the Internet right now honestly.
LF: Favorite fashion trend?
DG: I like throwback clothing. Just taking pieces that I liked as a kid and making it new – not in some shitty “I’m wearing care bear on my shirt” way.
LF: Best look on the opposite sex?
DG: Comfortable. Girls that are comfortable are super sexy.
LF: So are the glasses fake or not?
DG: Fake! I started wearing them at 30 Rock. I felt like a kid and that people weren’t really taking me seriously. It really does change how people treat you. It also brings certain looks together. That’s funny you should ask because there is the line in my Adele track –Spreading shit around like “His glasses fake” Now I’m dating girls whose asses ain’t….
LF: Favorite artists?
LF: What turns you on – literally and figuratively?
DG: Girls that know what they want. I had an ex who would be like “Let’s leave right now and fuck.” That was awesome. Or even when she didn’t want to fuck, she’d say so. I like when girls are comfortable being themselves.
LF: Any recent adventures you’d like to share?
DG: I went to Alaska. It was beautiful. It looks like Mordor. Also I went to Paris recently and it might be an obvious answer but it’s my favorite place right now.