Getty Images for BET Childish Gambino's fledgling rap career is no longer…
- Posted on Jul 28th 2011 1:00PM by Alex Suskind
A comedian trying to rap sounds like a gimmick, but contrary to popular belief, not all actors who try to rap are terrible. Want proof? Listen to Childish Gambino's latest album, 'Culdesac.' Haven't heard of him? Then you may know him by another name: Donald Glover.
Why the alias (which he got from an online Wu-Tang Clan name generator)? Well, if you heard a comedian was releasing a hip-hop album, would you take it seriously? Glover knows you wouldn't, which is one of the reasons you may also be hard-pressed to find featured guests on his upcoming self-produced album, due out this fall.
"I don't want people to look at it as a crutch. I don't want people to be like, 'Oh, he couldn't do it on his own,' " Glover tells Spinner. "I want to prove myself. I want people to know that I made these beats, I rapped over them, I worked real hard."
If you went to a Childish Gambino show without any prior knowledge of who Donald Glover is or looks like, you may not know that his day job is starring on an NBC sitcom and performing stand-up. But he is very good at keeping both sides independent. Not only does he have distinctive names for each character, he has two completely different on stage personas.
"I feel like stand-up-wise, I am a lot more lax. I get on stage, try and talk to the crowd and be as [much as] one of them as possible," says Glover. "With music, I want that to be more of an experience. When you walk away, you're like 'Holy s---! How did that even happen?'"
Before he began making waves in hip-hop, Glover starred in the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, best known for their "Bro Rape" series, which ended up going viral on YouTube. After Glover became a writer for '30 Rock,' he released an album called 'Sick Boi.' But it would be his mixtapes -- 'I Am Just a Rapper' and 'I Am Just a Rapper 2' – that debuted two years later that would help him gain notoriety for something other than his comedy. By spitting clever one-liners and metaphors over songs by indie groups like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, people started to notice.
Granted, the man still has comedy in his blood, even when he's got hip-hop on his mind. Case in point: during our chat with Glover, he spoke about his pre-concert ritual: Working out. But the session he had prior to his Bonnaroo performance didn't go so well.
"We [worked out] and I felt sick from it," said Glover. "I f---ing got really drunk then ate ice cream. Then [when it was] time to do pushups, my body was like, 'What the f--- are you doing? You're an idiot.'"
Now, a year after his 'I Am Just a Rapper' mixtapes, Glover has gained even more attention with his album, 'Culdesac.' Rapping may have begun as a hobby for him, but it's slowly starting to resemble a serious career path. His IAMDONALD tour sold out venues all over the country and his evening set at this year's Bonnaroo festival was completely raucous, as thousands of fans showed up to jump around and rap along to Glover's lyrics. You can even hear it in the way he talks: Even though comedy is what he's made his name on, it sometimes feels like Glover enjoys his Gambino personality just a little bit more, at least for the time being.
"I have a good time doing stand-up, but it gets harder and harder to do it because people all know your jokes because they record them on YouTube," he says. "Doing concerts and having people know your songs is new to me. That rush is new to me. So doing music is really fun."
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