We’ve written about serial multi-taskers/can’t-keep-still-ers before, but none have quite baffled us as much as the enigma that is Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover (AKA Troy, AKA Abed’s best friend from Community). He’s an actor, a comedian, a complete badass, a confusing tweeter, a former writer for 30 Rock, and since 2008 a rapper with lyrics like: “I’m hot as shit, comin’ out the backside of a rocketship/ It’s monster shit, you dudes are the opposite of Loch Nesses”. He is SWAG: Singer Writer Actor Gambino. When I saw the clip for Freaks and Geeks I legitimately thought it was a joke. As if Funny or Die had gotten elaborate and creative with a Donald Glover prank to get a bunch of hits. But no: Childish Gambino is a legitimate (awesome) thing—he’s a got a touch of Kanye in his ego but he’s really more of a Jay-Z in what he does. His latest release, Heartbeat is certainly no exception.
Heartbeat is in true Gambino style – loud, crude, auto tune a plenty, lyrics that could be a parody (“So I’m chilling with my girlfriend/ but she not my real girlfriend/ She got a key to my place but / she not my real girlfriend”). and the unmistakable Glover voice which is just so damn difficult to separate from our boy Troy’s. The video for Heartbeat is undeniably a reason for Glover to make out extensively with a leather-clad babe in the back seat and strut around like a boss; it’s also got that dreamy surreal quality to it: there’s bright lights and disconnected sequences and Cheetohs that dare not stain fingers.
But honestly, It must be difficult for DG to seriously get his CG alter ego off the ground: following him endlessly are comments like these, below Heartbeat on youtube: “I assume this was filmed by Abed and directed by the Dean”; “Cool cool cool.” Pipe down Community fans, you’re meddling with Childish Gambino’s potential and making us wonder why Annie and Britta weren’t in this clip instead.
Who are we kidding? Childish Gambino was, always and is Troy Barnes. Deal with it, Glover.