Black Nerd Profile #6 – Donald Glover.

Donald Glover is a Blerd. Unapologetically.

A true renaissance man. Producer, DJ, rapper, writer and actor.
Donald Glover was born at Edwards Air Force Base in California, on September 25, 1983. He was raised Stone Mountain Georgia but now resides in Los Angeles.

He has most recently been cast as Lando Calrissian in upcoming Han Solo STAR WARS standalone film which will be released next year. He’s also recently been cast in the new Spiderman: Homecoming movie. Donald had been fan-casted as Spiderman for several years prior which eventually led to the creation of the first Afro-Latino Spider-Man, Miles Morales, whom he has voiced.

He’s paving the way for many Black creatives. Glover is unique in a way where he handcrafted his own trajectory.

With his latest success of the hit FX series ‘Atlanta’ which he wrote, directs, and stars in, he shows it’s possible for black creatives to follow their dreams. Gambino has a wide range of audience: from people who followed him on his once active comedy group, Derrick Comedy, which consisted of a troupe of comedians who often made skits in the early stages of YouTube. Some people who know his musical persona ‘Childish Gambino’ and many know him as Troy from the hit show ‘Community’. He was also a writer on 30 Rock. A once unknown protege working under the direction of Tina Fey after recently graduating NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in dramatic writing in 2006. He wrote on 30 rock from 2006 to 2009 but also working on his on material which led him to produce Mystery Team.

Something happened which then shaped his trajectory. A catalyst occurred, after toying around with a Wu-tang name generator he rebranded himself Childish Gambino. He released his first EP in the summer of 2008, Sick Boi and his second in the fall of 2009, Poindexter. Both were self-released and he also made two other mixtapes. During this period Glover experimented musically but his first break was Camp (2011).

Where I first fell in love with Glover was during college, I was listening to his songs in a recreation room at my with fellow nerds. Head bopping about to the high pitched man on the speakers. My friend yelled, “That’s Troy from Community.”

I turned the music up more. Troy? The awkward black dude on Community rapped? I went home that night to my dorm and I googled it to find out to my surprise that it was true, Troy from Community rapped under the alias Childish Gambino. The first video I saw was Freaks and geeks, dressed in a red hoodie, Gambino stood alone in a well lit warehouse.

He has had several mixtapes out and the one that drew my attention was Culdesac. There the gateway opened. Since then I have followed this man’s career extensively.

Childish Gambino’s Camp started letting people know about the intersection of black and nerd. Gambino was an anomaly in a genre that praised hypermasculinity in black rappers. He often could be seen wearing out first purchased at your local Target However he was not the originator of that style, his predecessors such as Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams were. Gambino with his tv background and emotional lyrics often got compared to Drake, who was on the rise.

Unlike Pharrell, Gambino didn’t have a brand around him. Gambino was more of a guy who made his own music for the sake of making it. Catharsis if you will. Kanye had a mentor steadily guiding him to becoming a hip-hop mogul in Jay Z. Gambino isn’t interested in selling you products, he doesn’t rock Tom Ford or Louis Vuitton. Gambino is more of a thrift store kind of guy. A man who looks more interested in the latest Marvel comic release than attending a club. Gambino has struggled with masculinity in his music, leading him to make perverse statements to commensurate but now that he has matured as an artist he strays away from the insensitive material. Because of this, Gambino has appealed to quirky black kids who seemed excluded because they don’t subscribe to a certain type of blackness. Black kids who skate, watch anime or played video game Black is black. As we’ve seen in his show Atlanta, which has been one of the most diverse shows of the last 5 years.

Don’t expect to see Glover make any announcements regarding his family or reality tv shows appearance in the near future. Gambino keeps his creativity under wrap, which we appreciate in a world like this. There’s no one quite like him admittedly which is part of his charm. Gambino has inspired a generation of kids after him to be unapologetically themselves.

Author: Brittney Maddox

Editor: Han Angus

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