Morning Musings after the Emmys
It’s 5am out here on the east coast. I just woke up because I had to pee really badly and now I’m in that state where I’m clearly still tired but can’t go back to sleep. It’s cool, I’m experiencing a real flow of creative energy after watching the Emmys and seeing all of the cool people win some shit that’ll get them bigger paychecks and more faith in their work. I woke up and instantly opened my instagram because that’s basically all I’m on these days.
Saw a few posts from Brian Tyree Henry (Paperboi from Atlanta) bigging up his friends and collaborators. Once he started talking about Donald it reminded me of Lakeith Stanfield (Darius from Atlanta) quoting Redbone right before the awards tonight. “Shit, I should listen to Redbone right now, huh?” I thought to myself. Then I thought “I should listen to the whole album (“Awaken, My Love!” for those that don’t know what album I’m referencing). Me and Your Mama is basically my favorite song ever” which sounds hyperbolic, but have you listened to that song? Like, really listened to it? I think it just might be my favorite song ever.
All of that is to say that I’m really happy to see unlikely success. I mean, likely success is cool too. I love Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon and Big Little Lies sweeping all its awards is cool, but we expect shit like that to happen. Seeing Donald Glover and Lena Waithe make history back to back is what has me up at 5am stirring in my own brain soup with an inspired heart trying to find the words to truly capture how happy I am. For the record, Brian Tyree Henry’s posts appreciating both of them were the first things I saw when I opened my feed. That dude is underrated. He has a range that I think the world is only just discovering and I can’t wait for HIM to get his moment. That moment is coming, so just you wait.
But like I said, unlikely success is my shit. It’s what truly keeps me going as an artist. When I was growing up I had no real reason to ever believe that I could win an Emmy. I mean, that was never really my environment. I was always supposed to be a smart kid to make it out of where I was from and that’s really all the end goal was. Now, though? Now it seems like we’re seeing more and more of those dreams come true and come to light. I realized a few years ago that life isn’t going to stop for you to catch up, so you can’t hold yourself back and wait for life to push you along.
‘Zombies’ is playing right now. I started this at ‘Me and Your Mama’. Are you following along? Have you stopped reading this? Oh no! Did you stop reading this to listen to the album? Don’t do that. Just follow along with me. ‘Zombies’ is a very cool song. I just heard the lyrics “do you feel alive?” and I can say, unequivocally, that I do feel alive. In a deeper sense than the fact that I’m breathing and typing right now. I feel like I can truly accomplish something and to me that’s a huge thing.
I love Donald Glover. He’s going to be the image I use for this post. He inspires me in ways that even I don’t fully understand sometimes. I’ve been following his career since the second season of Community and the first EP he dropped after Culdesac (his second full length project pre-record deal).You know, the EP with Freaks and Geeks on it. Go listen to Freaks and Geeks if you’ve never heard it. That’s when I thought “oh shit, he can rap”. And I meant that. I had just watched this guy be a funny character on a TV show, so I liked him, but if he couldn’t rap I would’ve been honest about that.
A lot of people didn’t share my positive feelings about early Gambino. ‘Redbone’ is on now. People love this song. People love a Childish Gambino song. This is gonna win him a Grammy. Remember when Because the Internet should have won a Grammy? Remember when Because the Internet was a brilliant album that didn’t get nearly as much love as it should have?
I’m bitter. That’s not the point. People love Donald’s stuff now, Jonathan. People might love your stuff one day too. Maybe I’m so passionate about his career because people constantly compare me to him? Or because I love seeing people that I admire achieve things no one ever expected them to? I don’t know. It’s approaching 5:30 now and ‘California’ is on. I hate this song. I truly dislike it and I wonder if Gambino was high when he created it. Then I realize that being high and creating things doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be bad. You can create bad art sober. I’m sure of the fact that you just thought of some bad art that a sober person created. Or asked yourself if any art can be considered bad art. Either way, it made you think. And I don't know the answer to that question, but I do think that all art has some value. Even if it's considered 'bad' by most people.
‘Terrified’ is on now. Really love all of the musical choices in this song...I don’t know what I’m going to title this. There really isn’t a point to it and I’ve been rambling while listening to this album. Sometimes I get halfway into a post and keep writing just to see who will read it til the end. This isn’t one of those times. I’m just really full of words and need to purge myself of these thoughts before they get lost in the darkest corners of my rapidly spinning head. Right behind the ear-wax that I can never seem to get out.
‘Baby Boy’ is about to start playing. ‘Terrified’ is ending and now it feels like I’m on a mission to keep this post going until I finish the album. It didn’t start that way, but here we are.
I want to win an Emmy. I also want to win a Tony. An Oscar would be cool and a Grammy seems totally out of reach, but if I worked hard I don’t see why I couldn’t get one. I want Donald to get all of that too. Just cause people said he was making a mistake by trying to be a modern day renaissance man. You know, I do understand why people compare us now. People have said we look alike, but that’s not it (cause we really don’t. At all.). We’re of the same cloth and it’s very rare to find inspiration in someone that’s so much like you.
It’s so easy to look at him and go “I can’t sing...I can’t write as much as he has. He’s so handsome and I’m still dealing with leftover acne from stress and my teenage years (seriously why hasn’t it gone away?!). He’s got it all figured out. What am I doing?”. But then I realize that his birthday is 3 days before mine and he’s 9 years older than me. He started his writing career around the same age that I started my career. He started his acting career at pretty much the exact same age that I am now.
The parallels are there. It actually gives me hope. It shows me that it’s a long road ahead, but that there’s someone in my line of sight. ‘The Night Me and Your Mama Met’ is playing and ‘Stand Tall’ is up next. I’ve made it to the end of the album. I wasn’t trying to, I swear. It just sort of...happened. Through all the edits and the tangents; I made it to the end of this album and I feel pretty good about it. You might or might not, I don’t know, but I do.
It’s going to sound weird, but this was a good night for me. I’d been anticipating the Emmys for a while because I really wanted to see my creative heroes like Donald and Aziz shine. I wanted to believe that things are possible as long as you believe in yourself and in your work. My work is often times the only thing I look back on to remind myself that I’m on the right track.
I work very hard. Sometimes too hard. Sometimes to endless criticism. Sometimes that criticism hurts and I want to stop working, but I don’t. I can’t. Me no longer doing what I love means that I cease being me. And who are we when we choose not to exist in our most liberated sense of self? We are artists. We are art. And every word I type reminds me more of that fact. Every word I’ve heard on this album reminds me of that fact.
Tonight taught me that the journey has just begun. It could be really scary, but I look at how far Donald has come in the 11 years he’s been active in the business, and I see that true artistry takes time.
If you’re still here and you’re still reading this; I want you to know that you’re going to accomplish something great. Whether it’s a house, a great car, a beautiful child, an Emmy, a Tony, or a smile on a stranger’s face: It’s going to happen. And on that day you’ll have someone looking at you the way we all look at people like Donald Glover. In awe. Because the most awe-inspiring thing any of us can do is try.