Donald Glover arrives for the interview every bit the approachable friendly comedian he is. It’s surprising then that this same man, Childish Gambino as he’s known by many of his fans, is also the rapper currently paving a way for himself in the music industry, with hits like ‘Freaks & Geeks’ amassing over six million views on YouTube. He’s already enjoyed significant moments of success, as writer, as actor, as comedian. Now Flavour spends some quality time with the man of the moment – this time in music…
So what have you been doing since you arrived here, seeing the sights, kicking back…?
I flew in on Sunday afternoon and started working. I did a verse for Josh Osho and then I started laying down some other tracks for myself, then just been doing this interview!
Where does the name Childish Gambino come from? It’s a little
It’s a Wu-Tang generator, if you go on Recordstore, there’s a Wu-Tang name generator. Me and my friends were drunk and we put in our names for fun… and Childish Gambino
OK, so what does it mean?
[Long pause… laughs] I don’t know! I just like the way it sounded; I thought it was kinda stupid, because honestly, I didn’t expect this to like ever become anything. I was just, like, I’m gonna start putting out stuff, it’ll be funny, it’ll be kinda fine [laughs], but then RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, I met him and he was like, he heard my stuff!
You actually met RZA!
Oh yeah! I’ve met him a couple times, and the first time he was like, he was gonna direct one of my videos for a little bit, and said, ‘I like that name! It’s like the computer had a brain, cos you know you’re childish but you can still kill somebody!’ [Laughs] He was cool.
So what does hip hop really mean to you?
I like hip hop just cos it’s like a rebellion of something. I feel like it should be something that’s loved
You’re not in the middle with it, like, you’re either for it or against it, kinda thing?
And I’ve definitely seen that with Childish Gambino.
In what way?
Well, I’ve never seen anybody be like, ‘He aight.’ It’s either, ‘I love him!’ or ‘I fucking hate him.’ [All laugh]
A good thing, maybe, because it will show you who your true fans are, who will stick by you no matter what you do…
Yeah, London, actually London fans are super loyal, [laughs] you guys are about it! It’s very cool, cos you guys like it and I feel in America it’s kinda like whatever the hot thing is, people can listen to it, and then it’s, you know, next week [clicks fingers].
So are we right to say girls inspire you a lot – musically? Cos we’ve listened to a lot of your records, man, and there’s a lot on relationships with women…
Yeah! I mean like… [laughs], it’s this funny thing where people are like, ‘Oh! You rap about girls a lot?’ I’m like, doesn’t everybody rap about girls all the time?! [All laugh] I’m girl crazy. I know it’s a problem, I’m sorry.
You’ve had success as a writer and received the Writers Guild of America Award for best comedy, 30 Rock. What made you pick up a book and start writing?
Finally, you have gone from ‘30’ to ‘Childish’… what is the most childish thing Gambino has done?
To think that people would be interested in all this shit that I make! [Laughs] I think that’s the most childish thing! I’m really, really thankful for that, cos if someone was to say, ‘Oh yeah, Dave Chappelle’s [acclaimed US stand-up/screenwriter/actor…] got an album coming out…’ [Laughs] Like who the fuck is gonna be like, ‘That shit’s gonna be good…’? No one! I wouldn’t even think that – the fact that people gave me a chance I’m really appreciative of that; people allow me to do what I wanna do, so it’s really nice.
Words: Anthony Ant