Donald Glover Sees Himself as Tupac 'In a Strange Way' -- Here's Why
By Alex Ungerman
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Just hear him out.
Toward the end of a new interview with Esquire, Donald Glover compares himself to Tupac Shakur, a reference that he admits has become almost commonplace among artists who make hip-hop music.
It starts when interviewer Bijan Stephen asked the renaissance artist -- who created, co-writes and stars in FX's Atlanta, puts out critically-acclaimed music as Childish Gambino, and is set to star in two blockbusters, Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Lion King remake -- how he sees himself.
“Do you think Tupac was like, ‘I know exactly who I am?'” the 34-year-old multi-hyphenate asks.
Glover then goes on to reflect on shared circumstances in his upbringing with the "California Love" hip-hop legend.
“I know everybody likens themselves to Tupac a lot,” he says. “I am the new Tupac in a strange way. I grew up similar. I didn’t have a mom in the Black Panthers, but my parents were very pro-black. Also, my mom made me go to performing arts high school. She was like, ‘That’s where you need to be.’ Sometimes you have to play a role for people to understand you, even though you’re far more complex than any of that. Sometimes it’s really hard to simplify that so people can eat it.”
It seems Glover truly took his mom's advice to heart.
“Storytelling is just simplifying what’s happening to you. Life is just a story," he explains. "Stuff that happens to you, you just put into story mode. I just take what’s there and put it into story mode on a smaller level so that you can be like, ‘Oh my God, that’s life! I totally relate to that.’”
His reverence for iconic musicians doesn't end with Shakur. Citing Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder as influences, Glover expresses a desire to do something because he's "the only one who can do it" but wanting his work to stand the test of time.
Glover also briefly touches on Time's Up, including Matt Damon's controversial comments on the matter. The Downsizing star later apologized for his remarks, explaining he needed to "get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while."
“I was actually just reading about Matt Damon and he’s like, ‘There’s a culture of outrage,’" Glover says of his The Martian co-star. "I’m like, ‘Well, they have a reason to be outraged.’"
"I think it’s a lot of dudes just being scared," he adds. "They’re like, ‘What if I did something and I didn’t realize it?’ I’m like, ‘Deal with it.'"