The second season Donald Glover’s hit FX show Atlanta premieres Thursday (March 1), which means the show’s creator is making the press rounds to get the word out.
Glover, formerly known as Childish Gambino, stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Wednesday (February 28) to chat about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, his music career and, course, Atlanta.
When Colbert asked him if Paper Boi’s experiences as a rapper are inspired by Gambino’s own career, he explained, “Some them are me. Some them are my brother. Some are just the writer’s experiences. A lot people picked up that this is Twin Peaks for rappers but it’s really Curb Your Enthusiasm for rappers.”
“Being a rapper is super awkward,” he added. “You’re in a video and you got like champagne and butts close to your face … and then you have to go to Whole Foods, and the person is like, ‘Hey you’re that dude’ and you’re like, ‘Please I really want to buy this ice cream,’ but they’re like, ‘Yo you gotta be you right now, so let’s take this picture.’ You’re like, ‘Ok.’ You have to be that wrestler face but in the real world all the time.”
Glover also talked about why he decided to play the role Paper Boi’s manager instead a rapper himself.
“Playing a rapper … that would have been wack to me,” he said. “That would have been so wack to me. That just feels wack. It just didn’t feel cool to me to actually make music and then make a show. I don’t think anybody wants to see a show about making it.”
His parents, who are strict Jehovah’s Witnesses, raised him according to their religious practices.
“I was taught the world was a bad place,” he said. “I wasn’t really allowed to watch T.V. I didn’t have birthdays. That’s a religion thing but I think with a bunch kids, my mom was like that’s a lot money to save.
“Magic’s not allowed. Card tricks, nothing like that. No Magic The Gathering. No Magic Johnson. No Magic Kingdom. None it. All the little things a lot people would get when they were younger were really fascinating to me as I got older.”
Initially, his parents didn’t understand what he was doing when he started his career working on TV shows like 30 Rock and Community. It didn’t coincide with their religious beliefs. In fact, it still doesn’t.
“When it first started, they just didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I think about it and it must have been so weird for them to come out to my plays like, ‘I’m doing this play and there’s this musician and this Klan member comes out.’ But they’re like, ‘Alright, we love you.’”
At the end his appearance, Colbert brought out 6-year-old Girl Scout Charity Joy, who had remixed Gambino’s “Redbone” with her father to sell her Girl Scout cookies. Glover wound up buying 113 boxes cookies on the show, helping Joy reach her sales goal.
“Childish Gambino is for the kids,” he said.
Atlanta: Robbin’ Season airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.