I bought a ticket to this show as an early birthday present to myself. Damn, I’m nice.
2011 has been the year of Me Having A Massive Crush on Donald Glover, and this show did not disappoint. DG/CG (read like CBGB) is basically the perfect man in my eyes. He’s smart, funny, and talented, but all of those basic positive adjectives to the nth degree. Exhibit A: He was hired straight out of college (NYU) to write for 30 Rock. Exhibit B: He left that show after three years of writing Tracy Morgan’s one-liners to pursue a standup comedy career. Exhibit C: He was cast on Community as Troy. Exhibit D: He decided to start experimenting with rap, thanks to a serendipitously awesome rap name generated here. Exhibit E: He’s 27 years old right now.
I mean, just look at him. He’s one of those super-young, super-hot, super-talented people that come around every so often and (sorta) make the rest of us feel shitty for not having accomplished much yet. But the “sorta” is because this guy deserved 200% of the success and praise he’s getting. He’s a rockstar in the best sense of the word, and last night’s show at the Fillmore showcased all of his talents—and all of his potential, too.
He started off the night with a hilarious non-sensical slideshow, wherein he underscored the theme of the evening: It was his show, and he could say (or sing, or rap) whatever the FUCK he wanted. And that’s what happened. He came out for about 45 minutes and did standup, but it never really felt like standup because he got involved with the crowd and conversed with front-row creepers, like this one girl who managed to draw something he had talked about not five minutes earlier. His standup is so real and honest and fun, because he’s being exactly himself—a fun-loving, semi-hard-partying, intelligent 27-year old with a curious, observant head on his shoulders. He talks about his celebrity friends, like Danny Pudi and Reggie Bush, not because he’s name-dropping, but because it just makes sense! That’s who he hangs out with, that’s who he’s come to spend his time with, and that’s our familiarity with him. He’s got such a sweet innocence about him, in the sense that he’s not jaded by showbusiness or celebrity. It’s (prepare for my favorite word here) refreshing.
But we all know that Donald Glover is a funny guy. It’s how he made his name. The second half of the show, therefore, was probably intended for him but was even more impressive than the first. His alter-ego, Childish Gambino, allows him to explode on stage, taking over the space with a different kind of energy, a rapper’s swagger that isn’t necessarily gangster but isn’t a put-on, either. He can get away with it, sure, but he’s really saying something up there with his rhymes. Obviously he’s got a long way to go before he “perfects” his rap, for lack of a better term—most of the rhymes are couplets, for example—but his range of beats and lyrics is incredible. He’s also got a really nice singing voice and an envious falsetto range (i.e., he can do his own R&B bits). Here’s a brilliant sample of his poetry on “Freaks and Geeks” off his EP (which you can download here:
I have worked all winter, I will not fail summer
In the back of her bush like Gavin Rosedale’s drummer
Yeah, my stinger’s in her flower, I hope she let me pollinate
Workin’ hard as shit, yeah this beat is made from concentrate
Nigga, can’t you tell that my sample of Adele
Was so hot I got these hood niggas blowin’ up my cell?
Swag out the ass, I’m the man, fuck Chico
Took the G out your waffle, all you got left is your ego
It’s just so… fresh! Not in that silly ironic way that the kids are using these days. Or maybe that is how I mean it? I don’t know. He speaks a certain relatable, witty truth in this song, and in all of his songs thus far. I’d like to say he makes “nerd rap,” but that isn’t necessarily a fair term. He does indeed call himself a black nerd, but he’s incredibly hip at the same time. Or maybe I’m the one who thinks that liking strange, specific stuff and making tight pop culture references is “hip” and not “nerdy.” To each their own. In any case, I can’t wait to see what’s next from Donald Glover. Oh, and I’m proud to be a Gambino Girl.