There’s a line in the track “That Power” off the album Camp that perfectly summarizes Donald Glover’s rap career as Childish Gambino: “For every black ‘You’re not black enough,’ there’s a white ‘You’re all the same.’”
Scheduled to perform during Canadian Music Week last March, the event was postponed when Glover fractured his foot during a show. The makeup show is happening at Echo Beach on Tuesday, July 31, and it sold out quickly, which is yet another confirmation that the comedic actor/rapper has been having a brilliant run of success these last few years.
Glover’s been part of the ensemble on NBC’s cult hit sitcom Community, and on July 4 he released his Royalty mixtape featuring star turns by RZA, Ghostface Killah, Danny Brown and, most surprisingly, Beck and Glover's ex-boss when he was a writer on 30 Rock, Tina Fey. So he's been keeping busy since his latest album Camp became a commercial and (mostly) critical hit in 2011.
“I’m glad [Camp] is out there,” Glover said earlier this year during a Toronto promotional stop. “‘Heartbeat’ has been more and more popular and it [is] getting played on the radio. Somebody in Chicago tweeted that it’s getting played all the time, which is great. That’s all I ever wanted. I want people to get sick of me.”
The project draws its cues and sound from Kanye West, and the issues Glover touches on – his take on racism, fame and relationships – are presented with strong lyricism and intent. His music has also had a polarizing effect, mainly from people who think he’s just an actor moonlighting in the rap game, not to mention factions that may feel his brand of music isn’t “black enough.”
"Growing up as a young black kid in a white neighbourhood, there was always a feeling that you’re never going to be good enough to succeed," Glover said, adding that a lot of his fans can identify with that. “I’m going to keep being me and you’re probably going to disagree with some of my stuff.
"It’s cool the different reactions that people are having,” he continued, talking about the album. Glover is all about making music from his quirky and wholly authentic perspective, one that presents a black identity that some just aren’t used to seeing.
“But it’s also made me see whiteness, because they view me as different, too. We’re kind of in the post-Kanye, post-Obama-type society. It’s weird: people are kind of smarter than the movie Crash and not smarter than the movie Crash,” Glover said, citing the 2004 film about racial tensions in Los Angeles. “And I felt that Crash wasn’t that great, personally,” he added with a laugh.
“For me, the best way for me to make the album was to not be a spokesperson for anything and just do it from my point of view. And I feel with this album, I made a lot of fans that way.”
Childish Gambino performs at Echo Beach in Toronto on Tuesday, July 31.
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