I’ve been on tour with Donald Glover for the last four months, and wanted to share some thoughts and musings I had about the experience. First off, I want to say sorry to the people at P&P. This article was supposed to be done weeks ago, but I kept pushing it back for two reasons.
1. I wanted to make sure the tour was over to allow myself time for reflection.
2. I didn’t want to write it.
Anybody who knows me knows that I hate think pieces as well as most comparable material written on the internet. People complain that once the blog era got cracking, there was no filter for all the bullshit music that we’ve experienced over the last decade. Same can be said for writing. There’s a million people that write, but only an actual handful of real writers. We don’t know y’all credentials. Hell, I’m not a writer and my favorite blog gave me an opportunity to have an outlet to do so. I’m appreciative of the look, but I also know this is just another glib in your morning run of reading through bullshit lists and vine comps on Worldstar (sup J). Also, please forgive the fact that this article is poorly written, has no structure, and is pretty much me complaining and kind of threatening people. With all that being said, I do understand I offer some insight that some people might care about…
Touring itself kind of sucks, especially if you have an old nigga mentality like I do. At the end of the night, if I have to choose between a groupie or getting rest to prepare for the next show, I’M SHLEEPIN. Groupies are overrated anyway, even in theory they don’t make sense. Since the beginning of time man has operated on the barter system, where both parties exchange services that they feel are mutually beneficial. There’s no real fair exchange with groupies. Bake a nigga a pie, make me an air brushed t-shirt, give me a laced blunt to make me feel good about our potential transaction. Anything tangible—looks aren’t enough. I know this is gonna sound chauvinistic but it’s the most common question I get from my friends so I’ll speak on it one time and one time only.
Believe it or not, Donald has some of the baddest female fans in the game. Just ask somebody who has actually gone to a show. The downside is you have to factor in that Gambino groupies aren’t typical groupies. They write screenplays, poems, and haikus with detailed sketches and shit. They’re not trying to get smashed, they’re trying to be inspired. The sense of entitlement for this kind of fan is through the roof, and we stopped entertaining it early on the tour. The pay off just isn’t worth it. Stefan Ponce (our DJ) would always say this was the most adult rap tour in the history of rap tours. We always made the “wise” decision, but mostly because nobody wanted to play their role. Us or the groupies. If you’re a groupie, own it. We all respect and applaud you. Everybody has a role in the world. The Bulls didn’t win championships because their entire team wanted to be like Mike. You had to have an aesthetically unfortunate dude who can defend, white guys that can shoot 3’s, and a confused black guy who knew how to rebound. Role players help everybody win. A groupie who is self-realized is usually the most fun to hang around, and the crew embraces her without ever thinking about engaging in any sexual activities. Usually.
Closing is a hassle too. You meet somebody and you’re supposed to have sex with them within five hours of introducing yourselves. Think about how tiny that window is. I don’t care who you are, you definitely need an immense amount of charm to pull that off. You have to spin “You do this every night?” into making sex THEIR idea, which is too much of an inconvenience for someone with an old nigga mentality like myself. I don’t care enough, I’ll skip on the cooch. Groupie talk finished.
Guys in relationships are probably the most miserable beings on tour. They have to check in with their girlfriends under the most extreme circumstances and it’s usually far from any adequate service. Plus, these guys have to deal with chicks throwing themselves at them because they reek of stability, the smell that every man in a relationship gives off. I feel bad for these guys the most. It’s the worst struggle to witness and they’re usually the hardest to be around because they hate life and what it’s turned them into. They’re constantly being punished for their noble decisions.
You can learn a lot about who to fuck with in your everyday life once you get back home when you’re on the road. Weeks prior to performing in any city, you’ll get hundreds of texts to see how you’re doing, leading up to the day of the show when you get that, “Hey are you in town? Would love to see you” text. The smart ones never straight up ask for tickets, it’s all under the guise of hanging out. I know people that will meet up for breakfast and by the end of day be “shocked” that your artist is playing a show in their city that night. There’s a special kind of hate that brews in the depths of my heart for these kinds of people. But I also can respect a good con artist so I usually entertain it.
When you’re on that tour bus you’re part of a community. If someone is going through something, we’re all going through something. You have a cold? Best believe I’m catching that bitch in a couple hours. Somebody stole your shit? It was probably me, but possession ain’t real anyway. Cops stopping the bus because it smells like weed? We’re all getting busted. It’s a communal space and you have to learn how to adapt, whether you like it or not. Touring’s not all bad, though. There’s usually an abundance of naked juice in our fridge. Yea…
I’m always in places where they’ve never seen black people, let alone one looking like Gerald from Hey Arnold. That doesn’t really help.
Being black is overrated. Sure I can scare people when I NEED to, but most people are naturally scared of me. We’re not always in New York or LA, so the middle of the US has to be accounted for and explored. I’m always in places where they’ve never seen black people, let alone one looking like Gerald from Hey Arnold. That doesn’t really help. We stand out way too much. I was walking into restaurants in Boise and they would literally put up their “Closed” signs once I would walk in. I had to run into a sandwich store with money in my hand and yell my order so those niggas wouldn’t front on me and close up with the hastiness. Hunger is a reminder of my unforgivable blackness.
Donald Glover is black. Donald Glover is a nigga.
I’m only saying this to remind people that Donald is a real black person. And I’m not saying “real” the way Lupe and Talib Kweli would use it. In case you forgot, he actually has black skin. We went through the Canadian border and they made him strip and took his belongings because they thought they smelled weed. FYI this is nigga treatment. He’s not posing with cops in pictures like Macklemore because he probably still pees a little anytime he sees a cop. It’s that healthy fear/hate black people have when they see police, which is what I imagine Justin Bieber feels like on a daily basis. I grew up two blocks from where the LA riots took place and where a lot of Boyz N Da Hood was filmed, and I went to Donald’s old house for the first time and thought it was as equally shitty as where I grew up (sorry Mr. and Mrs. Glover). The nigga got out, just like me.
On the last leg of the tour, Donald invited his dad to join us. To give you some background, I never liked his first album Camp. I thought it was too mechanical, and the singing was too clean and sounded like a drama club kid in high school that was trying to win the lead in some play or some shit. The opening track “Outside” was something I knew the words to only because I saw him perform it a million times on the road, but I’d be fine if I never heard that joint again. Until I heard his dad talk about it. This man could barely hold back tears just talking about not being able to listen to it for weeks after it came out because it took him to a time in his life that he hates to remember. Every damn lyric was true, but people marginalized it as a post-racial attempt to speak on a problem that is now non-existent. The music sucks? Cool. But I’ve never seen a rapper’s personal life attacked as much as Donald in this current era of music. I would have these convos with my guys Steve and Swank on the bus, and it usually got me heated.
Let’s be real, Donald is an easy target for most people, specifically white critics. They see him as this affluent whiny dude who never had to struggle or live the black experience, and most of his success can be attributed to his built-in audience from being on network TV for a number of years. If you didn’t read that first sentence you would’ve most likely thought I was talking about Drake, but they won’t let niggas have two successful actors-turned-rappers. It’s just too much to digest. So you attack who you think is the weaker one, the one with no co-signs or real affiliations. I remember we went to Drake’s house (fuck you Drake, if you can mention drinking tea at Erykah’s I’m gonna mention your crib) and the Weeknd came up to Donald and his brother and seemed relieved when he said, “I had to come up to you guys and see if you were actually niggas.” Imagine a world where a polite beige kid from Toronto goes up to two black kids from Atlanta and one from South Central LA, and he’s the one questioning our hood credibility. Things done changed. Let me digress…
It’s embedded in my DNA to not let shit slide, and I have to address it if I can. I’ve even got into it with some label owners who may or may have not blacklisted me from music.
We get bored on the road and I have a tendency to call out people on Twitter, but it’s not because I’m some internet thug who gets a kick out of bullying people. I have a temper and some would call me volatile (false) but I’m just a dude from LA who grew up at the height of gang culture, and I hold people accountable in an industry where everybody seems to be faceless/spineless. It’s embedded in my DNA to not let shit slide, and I have to address it if I can. I’ve even got into it with some label owners who may or may have not blacklisted me from music. I’m just a passionate guy, even when it gets me into trouble.
Boots made an appearance on the bus and we talked about the industry. He has a more optimistic view, but I think a lot of the critics/industry are full of shit. Chance never got props for his feature on Royalty. Writers initially ignored it or dissed it, saying his voice was annoying. Cudi got praised for having Haim on his album a full year after Donald did it. Willie B at TDE was losing his shit once he found out Donald did the “Look Out For Detox” beat that Kendrick used. People say my guy tries to sound like Frank Ocean, but Merry Clayton didn’t even know Donald rapped and when she heard him sing she thought he was the best singer she’s heard in a long time. I know Donald will be annoyed with me for writing all this shit, but he’s not gonna get his Kanye on and tell these stories. The only reason I even mention it is to give people a reference point on how there’s this sheep mentality in how we judge our current artists. Dude is always around the dope shit early—that means something.
On the tour bus, we’ll be working and get hit up constantly by our friends with screenshots of some new nigga talking shit, and at some point you get fed up. If you’re just some random kid trolling and I don’t know you, I’ll completely disregard it. But if you’re a writer, blogger, director, or rapper that says something that I catch, just know you’re usually one person away from me and I will approach you in public if I get the chance. I’m not a violent person but if our conversation goes in that direction, meh. I have no problem naming names because I know they don’t. [Ed. note: Fam did go on to name a bunch of names here. Some of those mentioned have written for P&P and to avoid awkwardness, we’ve removed the names. You probably know who you are.] We’re all adults here, so let’s talk.
Peace to Royalty for allowing me to be on that bus.