KCRW Guest DJ Project w/ @DonaldGlover (Childish Gambino)
The IAMDONALD tour hits the TLA in Philly tonight…and its sold out.
Actor Donald Glover says the secret to both comedy and songs is in the details. The former “30 Rock” writer and current star of NBC’s “Community” shares the song made him realize he could be a rapper, a track he calls the “perfect memoir of a relationship,” and talks about the life changing moment when he discovered Bjork. Donald recently released a new EP as his musical alter ego Childish Gambino.
1. Nedelle – tell me a story
2. Skee-Lo – I wish
3. Bjork – Isobel
4. Lil Wayne – something you forgot
5. Sleigh Bells – a/b machines
Dan Wilcox: Hi, this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW and I am sitting here with actor Donald Glover, who stars in the NBC comedy “Community”. He also has a few musical alter egos, including the rapper Childish Gambino. So, you have something beyond Childish Gambino?
Donald Glover: Yes, I re-mix and DJ and I used to produce and I still produce a little bit under MC DJ. I remixed Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois album in college and called it Illin’ Noise.
And, yeah, it was under MC D.
DW: Today we’re going to dig into his musical aspirations through the songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. So, Donald, what do you have for us today?
DG: Well, I guess the first song would be “Tell Me a Story” by Nadelle. She has a really pretty voice and the songs are very sing-songy to me. But this song stuck out to me because it’s about her dog dying, and I’m not really like an animal person, but the specifics in the song hit my heart just because it made me realize not only in scripts and in music, but the little things are what really hurt and when you have someone close to you die or leave or when you go through a break-up, it’s not, you know, I miss Ali because… It’s always the little things, oh, like her socks aren’t on the ground. She always used to leave her socks here. It made me realize specifics are what make relationships and bonds between people important. And it’s what makes songs good.
Song: Nedelle – Tell Me a Story
DW: That was “Tell Me a Story” from Nedelle. I’m sitting here with Donald Glover and Donald, what are we going to listen to next.
DG: The next thing we’re going to listen to is half guilty pleasure and half, honestly influenced me a lot. “ I Wish” by Skee-lo.
I guess if you don’t count Kriss Kross’ “Jump,” this is the first rap song I knew all the words to. Because like my cousins and stuff like were really into Bone Thugs and really into Biggie and really into stuff that scared me, but Skee-lo’s “I Wish” was the first song I heard where I was like, oh I can rap about that!
I always wanted to rap and I would freestyle and stuff and it just sounded fake- because I was rapping like Biggie and Biggie’s experience wasn’t my experience, at all. And, Skee-lo’s existence was exactly like mine — I didn’t think I fit in, I wasn’t cool enough, and I wanted to play basketball, but I wasn’t tall. Everything he was saying- it was the first time, oh like, just rap about, or just do, in any art form, what you know and that will make you you.
Song: Skee-Lo – I Wish
It was the first anti-hip hop song, to me. It was just like, I don’t have to pretend. And, the thing that I liked about Skee-lo and I found out later on that I liked about Pharrell and stuff like that is that they didn’t fit into a box of what a black kid had to be, which I hadn’t seen a lot, like I always felt out of place because it was just like, ughh, where’s my struggle? But, like, the struggle was just trying to find out who you were because what defines you as a young black person a lot of stuff and I feel like you see that a lot now. It’s kind of cool.
I‘m sure someone will write a large New York Times piece on the rise of the suburban black male soon because that’s Kid Cudi, Odd Future, suburban kids.. You know. Suburban kids who