My Adeezus

Also on Four Pins

Hey, this is Kanye motherfuckin’ West. Some of you may know me for being your favorite person and the rest of you obviously don’t know shit about shit! Anyway, why am I here? Because I’ve got some shoes to sell! One of the things that Steve Jobs’ ghost never told me was that being a genius is fucking expensive! Do you know how much gottdamn debt I’m in from all of my crazy ideas? For every screen I added to my extravagant cinema-tent or whatever, I had to take out another mortgage on Big Sean. He’s technically owned by a boutique that only sells indigo silks in Osaka, but I haven’t told him that yet. And apparently, all of those crazy contracts I signed when I was younger are still legally binding, so I needed to find another way to make money. I went to the Nike offices to ask them for royalties, and they said that they would agree if I would do some commercials.

I told them no! I told them they can’t control me! I told them to please reconsider as they carried me out of their office, but they wouldn’t listen! When DONDA grows to more than just Virgil and Ibn making different voices on the phone, I’m going to buy Nike! So anyway, now I need to recoup my losses. Kim’s mom said that she would help me meet some people who could help out, but Adidas was the only one who would give me 100% control of my projects. Plus, and you peons probably don’t know this, but the fashion world is impossible to penetrate. Only the most prestigious of names are selected to participate in projects like this. Like Jeremy Scott! He’s like the second modern day Willy Wonka! I’m the first!

I gave Adidas ten ideas for shoes, and all of them are great. They are cutting edge products, each and every one. I’m a master of product design, so this obviously did not come as a surprise to me. I’ve included some of the prototypes here, so take a look and agree with me!

Frendi High:

You know how it’s annoying when you leave the house looking 80% like a ninja, but your shoes look like they’re clearly made for basketball? Now, you have the option of matching these leather slippers with your pants! I was going to call these the Air Hedi Slimanes, but I didn’t because I’m a better person than him!

Yeezus Christ Superstar Skate Low:

I made an amazing song called Black Skinhead, and this is an homage to that. It’s important to pay respect to perfect, so I try to incorporate as much of myself into my work as possible. Not only are the stripes klan hoods, but they also look like a Zebra! I fucking love zebras! There’s a lot you don’t know about me!


In my latest concert appearances, I’ve been sporting spiked masks. I’ve been trying to get Kendrick to put one on, but he keeps saying he’s busy whenever I ask him to hang out. I made these shoes because I wanted everyone to experience a cool product I made, because I’m like the Santa Clause of product!

Red Mocctober:

Sometimes I’ll be chilling in the house, and I get worried that I don’t look fresh enough. What kind of examples do I set for Norie if I’m not fresh all the time? Without a good role model, she will never grow up to be a successful businesswoman like her mother. That’s why I made these moccasins! Plus I recently had my assistant read me a book about the last of the moccasins, so I figured it’s my duty to add more of these things into the market!

New Slaves High:

We are all a slaves to corporations! When you’re buying something from a big national brand, you’re directly supporting evil! Adidas is cool though!

Perfect Model:

I don’t use the perfection often, but I’m going to use it a lot here! These shoes are perfect! They look perfect, they look perfect on your feet, the smell perfect when they’re off your feet. There is nothing not perfect about these shoes. You’re not supposed to wear them though! Just look at them.


Thee shoes are just one big bundle of laces, because laces are the most important part of a shoe. That’s a little tidbit of information that I picked up while I was looking at a lamp for the tenth straight hour. These are dope, but you have to remember to keep them tied or else you’ll find yourself barefoot fast, and that’s illegal! It’s in the bible!

Yeezus Wings:

These shoes are the perfect packaging for your feet. You probably don’t get this, but it’s minimalism. It’s also baroque!

Yeezus Walks:

This is the sort of fantastic product packaging that I’m capable of, these shoes are wavy! Ahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! Get it, because there’s water in the soles?! If you give Adidas money for these shoes, you can literally walk on water. I’ve only known one guy who could preform miracles like that, but me and Dame Dash don’t talk no more.

Hip-Hop Merch Search

Also on Four Pins

Making money from rap music has never been more difficult. If you’re a rapper whose last name isn’t a compass direction and you regularly browse this website for tips on which brand carries the best $300 jogging pants, it stands to reason that you’re also a very successful street-pharmacist, because rappers aren’t getting money like that anymore. We live in a time where the only way to profit off your rapping ability is to perform live shows as often as possible while creating a brand that’s seen as desirable to the impressionable youth, forcing them to come out and attend said live shows whenever you come to town. Selling your brand’s accompanying merchandise has always been a necessary staple of the live show, but the “designs” have never been very complicated or, well, fashionable. Most of the time they simply featured the artist’s face or most recent album art screen printed onto a cheap cotton t-shirt, available in black and/or white. But recently, this trend appears to be changing as rap acts – especially new ones – understand their role as icons and are leveraging that popularity by selling clothes during shows and online without a middleman.

But with great output and need for monetary gain comes great opportunity for ridicule. Not every rapper is a fashionista like A$AP Rocky, nor can they all bend the will of the youth to convince people that the niche things that they like are actually cool, ala Odd Future. But every artist camp seems to generally aim for the middle, creating clothing that’s reflective of the current trends while still reflecting that artist’s essence – the same essence that people want to emulate. With this in mind, we examine the online merchandise stores of 15 popular rap artists, picking our most and least favorite items from each collection.


The ASAP Collection comes in only one shade, but it’s the prettiest one. Transform your look from street hustler/pleb to bank-robbery-ready by purchasing choice pieces from this heavily typographically-reliant line.
If you’re slightly overweight, insist on still wearing a basketball jersey to hoop in and despise Brooklyn, this slimming black one-piece is the obvious choice for you.
This is actually just a normal bandanna but made for a cyclops.


Want to dress like a diplomat who may turn hostile at any moment? With the limited Dipset fashion line you’re treated to a number of high-end socks and other nostalgia-propelled items.
Because if there’s one thing that the population of Minnesota loves more than football, it’s Cam’ron.
When you open up the package you find that it simply contains a note handwritten on lined paper saying “haha sucker”.


Some musicians start off wanting to become brands while others are forced into it by their corporate overlords. With Marshall’s collection, it’s clear that those corporate overlords are non other than the ones who dictate what clothing gets to be displayed in the high-foot-traffic areas of Wal-Marts across North America.
None of it, but this boom-box pin is the closest way for you to proclaim your loyalty while still keeping your pride.
It was hard to choose just one, but the stubborn way they’ve decided to make the backwards “E” a piece of the camouflage gives this hoodie the prize.

GOOD Music

After flaunting the cherub-printed clothing at stadiums stages all over the world and having the audacity to drape Big Sean’s emaciated torso in it, GOOD Music has decided to finally make select items open to the public. All of the items only come in black because #minimalism and #printingcosts.
This polyester jacket will keep you dry and works well with layers, but make sure that it’s always your outer-most layer so people can look at your cherub in awe while snapping discreet instagram pictures of you.
I came her for cherub and I’ll be damned if I leave with some sort of dizzying fonts instead!

Jay Z

The best commercial alive has been touring and putting out albums steadily since his 40th birthday, giving him a wizened perspective when it comes to both music and fashion. This clothing line is sure to be a hit at your next family get together when your bachelor uncle shows up wearing select items from this collection neatly matched to his Air Force 1′s.
The all-over print is very wavy right now but the fact that this shirt isn’t overly aggressive with it means that you can wear it with anything! Also it has the words “Magna Carter” all over it, so old people will think you’re smart.
Jay Zeagle.

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco is for the people. Whatever the people are currently enjoying is exactly the thing that Lupe is also interested in. With that said, it’s interesting how his fashion collection has done a great job of blending his Japan-obsession of yesteryear with his present-day EDMDJ aspirations. It’s all about striking the right balance between camouflage and Mandarin symbols for prosperity.
This only wins by default, and if it turns out that the black square that the design is printed on can be seen that clearly on the black shirt, I’m returning this faster than you can create an acronym for lasers.
I laughed for 30 straight seconds after seeing it. Who would buy this? The only reason I could see someone purchasing this polo is if they wanted to pop their collar and make it look like they can shoot bolts out of their mouth. Which, to be fair, is a good reason but it shouldn’t be the sole reason.


Interested in pulling off that hip “I’m not trying too hard, am I?” look while supporting civil rights? Macklemore’s clothing line comes complete with interesting designs that are non-threatening and thrift-shop ready, just like him!
The best part of any of Macklemore’s merchandise is that he clearly credits all of the creators involved. But pray tell Macklemore, who is that steely-eyed model?
If you wear this, you can rest assured that the subsequent bullying won’t come as a result of your sexual preferences but your love for tie-dye.


Normally, the people who are associated with car dealerships have the worst fashion sense of anyone in the service industry. However, Rick Ross is trying to reverse that stereotype by offering a collection of items that represent himself and his team. Be careful when browsing through the catalog, since you may find yourself enchanted by an item only to learn that part of the proceeds go towards establishing Stalley’s career.
This t-shirt is great for simple the fact that it insinuates that Rick Ross consumes that much cocaine for breakfast. Unless he’s cutting it with aspartame and adding it to his breakfast slurpee, I don’t believe it. Also, cutting your coke with a razor blade is so 2003, grow up and get a points card you’ll never use.
A snapback with Wale’s logo embroidered in turquoise lettering AND a hashtag?! This is the true definition of what it means to be timeless.

Odd Future

This group fucked around and made kitty cats one of the biggest fashion trends on earth last year. Lately they’ve been pulling away from the cats and onto bigger and brighter designs. Say what you will about the music but they’ve found an amazing way to be financially stable while creating rap in 2013. Being a non-rapping member of Odd Future is like living in an episode of How To Make It In America but with someone constantly trying to capture a Vine of them farting on your face.
Staying true to their roots, Odd Future has put a cat’s goalie mask on the front of this hockey jersey. It’s the kind of closet staple that you need to have when you decide to switch out of your old clothes because they’ve been stained from dirt clod wars.
Even if this is for girls, it’s insulting that they left off the best spectrum of the rainbow for no reason.


This fashion house was originally built on the back of a basic owl design but has now evolved to accommodate all walks of life. This way, the creator can continue to expand his creative circle without having to rely on the fickle charity of Birdman and Slim. The owl sweaters are still in full effect, but some of the newer items eschew the basics in an attempt to get creative.
This longsleeve has everything you might want from a piece of merchandise. It’s fashionable, nostalgic and black, meaning that you can wear it by itself for the next 6 months before turning it into a layering item once something else becomes the new black.
I think someone’s code became corrupted when they dragged the photo on.


Of all the musical entities on this list, TDE has done the most to push themselves and their brand beyond what people perceive them to be. Sure, they don’t have the most visually appealing designs. And yes, they only really have one mainstream artist who – to be honest – isn’t exactly known for being fashionable. But like the little engine that could, TDE has managed to trudge forwards and carve a niche for themselves, steadily improving the clothing they make along the way.
I’m a sucker for burgundy, but I also enjoy how they’ve managed to incorporate the foreskin-hood into the design.
This looks like something the Illuminati wears when they go bowling.

Wiz Khalifa

Wiz has done an outstanding job of becoming a brand the second that his star passed from internet-famous to IRL-famous. One second, he was the dude who you recognized from the mixtape cover you just downloaded. The next, his name and likeness was being sold all over Hot Topic, making him successful enough to think that a blond patch of hair would be a good look. I secretly think that this is all a part of Wiz’s end-game. Face it, this dude named his entire movement on a shoe AND IT WORKED.
This is the sort of item that you can wear publicly without shame until a zoned-out mall rat gives you a subtle nod while you’re shopping for non-weed themed clothing.
Ever wonder what Beetlejuice would wear if he was really into Polaroids of Wiz Khalifa? Wonder no more, I beg you, because look what you’ve forced to exist. This is all your fault, imagination.

Wu Tang

You have to credit the longest standing fashion house in this list on avoiding that ride into the sunset on a yellow and black pony. Blame it on ambition or hunger, or more likely on a contractual fineprint that caused the Clan to be unable to collect many of the earnings that they made with their albums, but the result is a merchandise website that’s surprisingly adept at recognizing popular trends – especially when you consider that the combined age of all of its members is like, 90000 years old.
Pay tribute with an all-over print longsleeve. Because the only exception to the cliche of putting your album art on your merchandise is when that album is a masterpiece.
I hope someone buys this chain wallet just so they can get robbed by a 35 year old Wu Tang fan/FedEx driver in real life.


The most controversial fashion line in recent memory belongs to the man who constantly creates cool shit just for the sake of it being cool. Remember shutter-shades? I bumped into countless lockers while I wore those fuckers, but they were still inexplicably cool. And while I haven’t taken the plunge and splurged on leather jogging pants, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until I bow to the peer pressure. The point is that everything that Kanye creates is cool just because he’s got a solid track record to stand behind. Who cares if it’s racist towards those who endured slavery or the native Americans who had their land taken from them? It looks cool!
Native headdress adorned atop a skeletal frame? You say ignorant, I say Slayer-chic.
The worst part of this tote bag is the fact that people out there still think it’s okay to use tote bags.


The best way to ensure that you’ll always retain your core fans is to never drastically change. People fear change. No matter how many times you try to explain that without change there would be no butterflys, some people will be perfectly fine with living in a world full of caterpillars. This is the mantra that goes into every design at YMCMB clothing headquarters, where they’ve been printing the same five block letters onto shirts, sweaters, beanies and phone cases for the last four years. Recently they’ve chosen to swap the solid colored lettering and replace it with patterns, a move that has had varying effects.
The pixelated pattern makes it so when you step back and cross your eyes, you see the letters “YMCMB”, but fuzzy.
Save the white spots for the Trukfit shorts.



Donald Glover: Fear and Trembling

Also on Noisey

Donald Glover knows he’s going to die. He says it over and over again, not in a particularly dark way, but with a sense of finality most people reserve for talking about a wedding that they have to attend at the end of the year. It’s just another thing that’s going to happen. We’re at the Four Seasons in Toronto, seated, maybe two arm-lengths apart. He’s barefoot, wearing the same fur hat with ear flaps that he’s worn in recent radio interviews, telling me matter-of-factly that he’s going to die.

He’s a far cry from the jubilant and loveable Troy, the character he played on Community for the past four years of his life. Nor is he the same guy we were introduced to with the rise of YouTube sketch-comedy group Derrick Comedy back in 2007—the bro with a bag full of newly-Axe’d black dildos coming over to “just chill.” He’s technically here as his rap alter ego Childish Gambino, on a label-mandated press tour promoting his new rap album Because the Internet. But as he sits cross-legged sipping a glass of Oban Brand whiskey, it’s clear he has other things to talk about, not just death and hip-hop. Even though he knows that he’s going to die, he’s OK. The problem is that everything else isn’t, and he just wants to know why we’re not talking about it.

Despite the fact that he recently turned 30, Donald looks about 21, the same age as when Tina Fey hired him to write for 30 Rock. He’s very much a product of the internet, but now questions if the same structure that made him famous is responsible for more evil in this world than good. “At this point with the internet,” he says, “it feels like we’re just giving a handgun to an infant and going, ‘Don’t shoot yourself.’” The way he sees it, the internet’s created a dangerous system where people aren’t held accountable, where trends start and stop within weeks, and information is being put out at a rate so dizzyingly fast that it might as well just be noise.

The fact that this interview even took place is a testament to the power of the internet. After his Breakfast Club interview, I started tweeting my thoughts on Childish Gambino’s musical output. All of my opinions weren’t positive, but his friend Fam sought me out online to thank me for not criticizing the person, but the music he was making. This led to an email exchange that culminated in Fam inviting me to drop by the hotel the day before Glover would announce that he’d be doing all of his press at once, in the park, with all of his fans. In short, I was granted an exclusive sit-down to talk about Because the Internet, because of the internet.

When I arrive, Fam welcomes me inside. He’s recognizable as the supporting character in the final scene of Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, Donald’s new short film—the one by the bonfire, where Donald admits to having a gay encounter when he was younger. Although Donald and Fam aren’t lifelong friends, they behave like it. “One of the main reasons that me and Fam get along so well is that we both feel very alone,” he’ll later tell me.

When Donald arrives, he looks worn out, eyes sunk in as he shuffles across the carpet to shake my hand. He asks me how old I am. I stumble, saying I’m 21 even though I’m 23. I correct myself, and Donald tells me this means that I’m stuck feeling that age—something he knows well since he still thinks he’s twenty-five. He has no reservations, no caveats, nothing he won’t talk about. He settles onto the deacon’s bench at the end of the bed and sits Indian style, getting up only once to retrieve another splash of whiskey. Throughout the course of our two hours together, he answers my questions while either looking at the floor or gazing out of the window that faces a church across the street. He avoids eye contact until he’s ready to thoroughly address me, at which point we lock eyes. He goes off on tangents, but manages to make it back eventually. Sometimes he answers a simple question with an answer that touches on race, his past and humankind. Other times, he’ll give you the cold hard facts and nothing else.

What’s with the hat?
We were in New York and it was cold, and I saw a homeless man who had a hat like this. And then we kept walking and saw a hat store and it had that kind of hat, so I bought it.

Based on your more recent public appearances, you seem to be coming from a darker place.
We were in the airport and I was waiting in line at the ATM and there was a guy in front of me getting money. I came up and he got nervous, so I went to the side and waited for him to finish. I said to my group of friends, “I don’t think white people know how much effort in my day is put into making them feel comfortable.” In general, people don’t know how much of my time is dedicated to making them feel comfortable.Maybe it has to do with being older, but I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to make people comfortable all the time. Plus, we just feel like we’re going to die soon.

Like, in a hedonistic way? Or the world is doomed?
We’re just around death a lot. Since I started hanging out with Fam I just stopped trying to make it OK. People want you to think that it’s OK, you’re OK, take these pills, you’ll be OK. But it’s not OK. And instead of trying to make it OK and being told that I need to do certain things to cope, I’ve decided that maybe nothing is wrong and everybody feels this way. So maybe I should go with it. And since I’ve adopted that view, I wouldn’t say that things are working great, but I’m less tired.

Why are you in Toronto?
We’re here to do some interviews with radio stations, but I don’t believe in doing traditional interviews anymore. It’s so easy to twist words around, and I feel like with what we’re doing, the truth will eventually just come to light anyway. I’m not worried about the internet anymore.

It speeds up everything and we get information faster, and I don’t see the flip side of that. Like, people calling me a nigger or a faggot isn’t new—the internet just makes it easier. I don’t see where the good in that lies. Other than us being more aware of stuff, but I’m not more aware—I only pay attention to what’s on my timeline.

You could make the argument that we’re at least more informed. Look at the KONY thing.
We more informed, but there are so many opposing viewpoints. Some people say he’s helping, others say he’s supplying militias. Nobody knows who to believe or who to trust.

But isn’t the flip side of the internet the fact that it allows for people like me to be here interviewing you, or for you to have a career?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet. I think it’s great and it’s the only reason I’m here, I’m just like everyone else. I love watching Worldstar and all that shit.

What would your immediate reaction be to someone yelling out “Worldstar!” when you’re in public?
Hit the deck. If I hear it and it’s close to me, I’m just going to duck because someone is about to get hit. But niggas was screaming “Worldstar!” when we were in Atlanta and someone was shooting.

Where was this?
Atlanta at Opera nightclub. We were in Atlanta hanging and we came out and someone just started shooting in the parking lot. And everyone was yelling “Worldstar!” and running around until the cops came and broke everything up.

That’s weird.
I mean, it’s not that weird.

It is for Canadians.
Oh wow that’s right; you guys don’t have guns here.

Yeah, gun crime has kept a lot of people from crossing the border and performing here because they’re promoting a violent lifestyle.
It was hard for me to get cross the border today. The guy was giving me a real hard time. I didn’t know why. I didn’t want to say that it’s because I’m a rapper, but that probably was the case. The word “rapper” now has become so powerful.

When we went to Philly, the show had the be shut down because there was an electrical storm, so the fans came out to the tour bus to get some stuff signed. A lot of them were 15-year-old girls. Then the cops showed up with their batons and started clearing them out. And that’s what pissed me off. I know that people assume that I’m like the next Wayne Brady or whatever—which is fine, because that’s part of my brand and I’ve been making people feel comfortable around me for such a long time—but it’s just like the ATM thing. Like, the cop is going right after these little black girls, because he knows their parents aren’t gonna sue or whatever. And I get out of my bus to try to stop it and the cop yells, “Get back in the fucking van or I’ll fucking bust your fucking skull in you fucking retard!” But our white tour manager just got up in the cop’s face, and the cop didn’t do anything to him.

So is that because you’re a rapper or because you’re black?
Here’s the thing: he kept saying “rap.” And to us, and to you, we’d be like, “No, it’s a Childish Gambino show. It’s going to be filled with young girls and nerds who like puns. There’s no danger.” But they heard “rap” and that was it—it triggered something. And that word doesn’t mean the same thing to different generations.

Is that something you see going away as they age themselves out?
Absolutely. It’s going to be fine, eventually. We’re at a weird point right where I believe that people just think that everything is OK right now. We’re in a post-Obama world and everything is supposedly OK now. Fam works with inner city kids and a teacher told a kid, “Hey you can do anything because the president is black.” That just pissed me off. Because you can’t. I like Patrice O’Neal; he’s like a prophet and like a black Louis CK. He asked everyone at his show to put their hand up if they thought they were racist, and nobody put their hand up. But then he asked them if racism still existed, and everyone said yes. So where are all the racist people? We live in a time where you can’t prove it. And that’s part of life. And I don’t want this to be a race topic. But it still skews how I look at things. America is supposed to be this melting pot where everything is thrown in and the best rises to the top but that’s not true.

Are you reading books right now?
Yeah, I’m really into Kierkegaard shit right now.

Man, that is not going to make you happy.
It does make me happy, because it makes me feel less alone.

Was that the point of Clapping for the Wrong Reasons?
I mean, there was no point to the movie.

At all? You weren’t trying to do something with it?
I was just trying to make something.

I feel like if we’re all going to die soon, like we feel we are, I only want to make dope shit. I want something people can look back on and see what they were doing.

The film does have to do with the album and the feeling that I’m trying to get across. When it started, I just wanted to do something cool and interesting and personal. Bink! the producer came and lived in Chris Bosh’s mansion with us while we rented it for four months. And I was telling him that I feel like I try too much sometimes. And he told me that no matter what, someone is always going to feel how I feel. So that film captured how I was feeling at the time. Not just in the house, but in the world. The drifting, the not-knowing. Whether it be through relationships or through the house. That’s what I was trying to do.

I just wanted people to get across something that they don’t normally talk about, and why aren’t they talking about it. I mean, I feel that way: why am I pretending to be Troy? Why am I rapping about puns? When actually, I’m afraid that my parents are gonna die or I’m afraid that I’m going to be Tyrese [Gibson]. Those feelings are the types of things that connect us, not showing the car you drove or the stack you have. I fully expected people to be like, “Fuck this movie, it sucks. Fuck this guy, he’s pretentious.” But I just said fuck it, let me tell the story of how one time I kissed a boy. Am I gay? I don’t know, maybe. But the maybe is what’s really connecting us.

Fear is the only connecting factor, at least for me. Every time I say something that I think “someone else shouldn’t know this,” that’s the thing that normally gets the biggest response. I used to have this fantasy that when I turn 78 I would do everything I hadn’t done thus far. I’m going to do heroin, kill a person, blow dudes, just everything that’s left to do in life. But as I get older, I realize that there’s a good chance that I won’t even make it to 78. First of all, I’m a black male. Secondly, every male in my family has a lifespan of like mid-60s. So technically, I’m mid-life right now, even though I’m not that old. But that’s how I started looking at shit, so I started to wonder why I’m doing stuff. Why am I trying so hard to be nice to the guy at the ATM and making him not scared of me, or why am I not doing drugs, why am I living for other people?

How concerned are you with pushing stuff forward?
I feel like that’s the only thing that I can grab onto that makes sense and has a purpose to it. I’m extremely lucky in the fact that I’m alive and I’m human, that doesn’t happen a lot in the universe. This should never happen. Like, my dad, I know what his purpose was. He made sure that his kids were more educated than him so that they didn’t have to make the same decisions that he did. You have to man up when you have kids, and that’s what he did. My great grandparents bought their freedom and walked from Maryland to Virginia and bought the only land available. Have you ever seen American Gangster? You know Bumpy, the guy at the start who has a heart attack? My grandpa used to work with him, he was his right-hand man in real life. They ran numbers together. Those guys had this drive to go out and make something of themselves by any means necessary. So I look at all of them, and I wonder why does it stop with me, and I realize that it’s because I have so many options available. And watching Kanye and my other heroes do shit that they were afraid of made me ask myself, and this is not a diss to Community, but why am I sitting here and just smiling? Is it for residual checks?

Community does seem like a sweet gig.
And it is! It’s great, the people I worked with are great, the food was great, I got recognized everywhere and people loved me for it. But like, I was waking up screaming sometimes.

Because I knew I was gonna die. And if I knew that it was just like “this guy from Community died,” I’d be really disappointed. I can’t live like that. I’d feel guilty that I didn’t do anything for us, for humans.

Do you worry about spreading yourself too thin? Wouldn’t your cause have more validity behind it if you only focused on one thing?
I feel like if a person does that, locks himself away to make better music, then that is his purpose. He has that mindset. I don’t think what I did was that different. After I came off tour, we went to Australia and I was just super depressed. I mean, I tried to kill myself. I was really fucked up after that, because I had this girl that I thought I was going to marry and we broke up. I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing. I wasn’t living up to my standard, I was living up to other people’s standards, and I just said “I don’t see the point.” So that’s what we did after Australia. I rented a mansion, I invited over a bunch of people that I could trust like my brother, Fam—

—Trinidad James?
Nah, he just showed up. Trinidad James is the best because he’s honestly “the nigga.” He’s such a nice guy and he’s so funny. And we were both raised Jehova’s Witness and we bonded over that—he got our sadness. You know, Prince and MJ were both raised Jehova’s Witness too. And the weird thing about that religion is that they teach you that when you die, that’s it. You get all of the guilt and none of the promise of it paying off one day.

There are so many people who subscribe to what you’re doing, who are already fans of you from other ventures. Does that put more pressure on you to succeed?

One of my most vivid memories is from when I was at Stone Mountain in Atlanta. They have this laser show. It’s a Confederate thing, and we were the only black family. So at the end when the South “gives up,” the people who were sitting around us started throwing beer cans at us. And I remember one of my first thoughts being, “How do I make them like me?” So I carry that with me and I want to make people like me. But that’s never gonna happen. So why am I trying to make them happy?

What do you consider validation on the internet? Does a publication like Pitchfork giving you a 1.6 influence you going forward?
Pitchfork helped me a lot. First of all, there’s no way I can make something worse than that. It would be impossible. It put a lot of people on my side too. But I’m not worried. If I worked for Pitchfork, I wouldn’t give myself a 9.0 either. They’re a brand, they sell tickets to a show they put on every year. They’re not going to give a 1.6 to someone who can be at their show and sell tickets. They’re not the same publication that I grew up with anyway. It’s changed, and that happens. Any good idea starts with a movement, becomes a business, and ends up a racket. And I’m not calling Pitchfork a racket, but they’re a business. And I didn’t fit their business structure. But I just want there to be a conversation, and this started a conversation about what Childish Gambino stands for.

You can say what you want about Macklemore, but he stands for shit. That’s what made him huge. You know how easy it would be for people to just disregard him and say, “Bye Macklemore, you’re Psy now”? It would’ve been very easy if he didn’t have something to stand behind. He’s doing the dopest shit. He’s giving gay rights speeches right now.

But he’s a straight white man.
Exactly. He acknowledges that.He’s self-aware. I know it may seem like a ploy, especially because he’s a straight white male, but that’s genuinely him. Most of the time, for a black woman to get shit done, you have to be one in a gazillion, you have to be Oprah. And even then you need a rich white dude to OK it. Most of the time when we see some racist shit, we can’t speak up. But a guy like Macklemore can. Like this weekend in Vegas, we couldn’t speak up and I was almost in tears over it.

What happened in Vegas?
My parents are disabled, so they can’t walk around. But the venue that I was performing at won’t let us inside. So I’m talking to the security guard, and and tell him, “Look, I know you’re saying no to everything because it’s a festival, but I’m performing tonight. My name is Childish Gambino, my real name is Donald Glover. You can look it up on your phone or tell your boss, but my parents are right there and everything is blocked and they can’t walk. Can you please just help us get inside?” And they’re just like, “No.” Then the cops come up to me and they say, “Can I help you” so I say, “Yeah I’m supposed to be performing and I’m just trying to get my parents inside,” and he tells me to “get off the street” because we weren’t standing right on the sidewalk. So we get on the sidewalk and the cops just cruise off.

And then I go back over to the security and the cop is with him and they start yelling at me again, so Fam says, “Yo, just chill,” and the cop loses his shit: “Did you just tell me to chill? License and registration.” So they force them to drive off, but Fam pulls over to get out and the cop says, “Get the fuck out of the street” and you can see in his eyes that if we make a wrong move or say something else, they’ve got us. And that shit happens all the time. This time was different because he emasculated me in front of my parents. I can’t even get them into my own concert. And you can’t complain, because then you become the whiner.

That’s crazy.
That was the worst part of that Pitchfork thing. I know people are going to trash the music, I see them doing that shit and I see where they’re coming from. There’s shit on Camp where if I saw it as a kid, I would say that that shit is corny. And I’m willing to take that. But the shit that I didn’t like about that Pitchfork article and that really made me mad is that the writer—and I know this nigga too because he lives on my block. Fuck that nigga. He’s afraid of me, and that’s something he’s gotta deal with. But the thing that I didn’t like in that review was that he said, “Oh, well Jay Z and Beyonce go to a Grizzly Bear concert—there’s no problem. This kid that is on Camp, he doesn’t exist anymore, because there’s people like Tyler the Creator etc.” and I’m like, “Fuck you. You don’t know. You didn’t grow up like me.” That’s the thing. You don’t get to tell me that racism is over. That’s the one thing that bothered me most about that.

Where do you see yourself in the rap game?
This is something that I take from comedy. Chris Rock always says to me, “It’s never the audience’s fault.” If I’m not respected, that’s on me. Like, who ever has won from coming out and saying, “I need to be respected because I’m awesome.” They’ll come around eventually.

New shit is scary to people.
It’s always scary. And that’s the thing, I’m finally cool with people saying “this is dumb” or “this is stupid” because I’ve realized that I’m not going to be around to realize if that’s true or not. All I know is that it’s dope to me, and that’s what matters. That’s all I wanna do from now on, is make dope shit that we all think is dope. Worrying about someone being happy with what I make in 2085 is pointless to me. I’m done pandering. I was definitely pandering for a long time, but I feel like it doesn’t help. I definitely used to make things because I knew people would be comfortable with them, but I’m done with that.

You seem to have gotten a lot better at rapping.
I’m going to say that’s drugs. It just made me less tense.

How upset would you be if your greatest contribution to music after it’s all said and done, was introducing Chance the Rapper?
I’d be upset, but only with myself. It would be like, you had the tools to do something great and you didn’t. There’s nobody stopping you from doing what you want. Even with this label situation, we’re just now slowly coming around to the fact that we have to do whatever it takes. So I’d be upset, not because he’s not good, but because I can be better than him if I push myself.

I haven’t done acid yet. It’s mostly just shrooms, edibles, and weed. I’m doing Ayahuasca soon.

Don’t you need to be in a happy mindframe before you do Ayahuasca?
Here’s the thing, I’m always sad. I always just “see” myself. I did a heavy edible the night before and I was happy, but I remember some things that I said while I was on it like “I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to people knowing who I am, or what my sister looks like.” The first time I got high I got really sad. But I kinda realized that’s who I am.

Would your ideal eventual career path eventually mirror someone like Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith or Drake?
I want to be something completely different from everyone on that list.

Now, excluding Tina Fey from that list. Fuck, marry, kill.
Drake’s my boy, but he would not be fun to fuck, that would be really sad. I’d probably fuck Will Smith because he’s ripped. I’d marry Jerry Seinfeld because he’s so fucking rich. So by process of elimination, I’d have to kill Drake.

Why do you think rap critics don’t embrace you the same way they embrace Drake?
My biggest problem is that critics approach music with their mind made up just because they don’t like the person who’s making the music. I put that on myself for not doing a good enough job. I definitely think that there’s reasons that they could use to say they do like me, but for whatever reason they don’t. And I get it. It’s like Jiro Dreams of Sushi where the customer had the best sushi ever at Jiro’s place and it turned out to be made by his son. And I knew that when Drake came out, I was like “fuck”. Because critics are gonna hate me, there’s gotta be a release valve for rapper/actor success. They can’t be like “fuck, this nigga’s great too! They’re both dope! What are the chances?” They aren’t gonna do that shit, and I knew that. But I have to be better, I have to beat him. And I’m not gonna beat Drake ever, I’m not that cool. I’m not gonna be smooth or cool, but I know I’m more imaginative than all these niggas. I’ve known that as a kid. I have more weird experiences to draw from.

Have you ever thought about making a concept album in order to stay away from the personal stuff that people use as ammunition?
That’s what this is. Even Camp was a character, but this is more of that. Dealing with critics is the same as dealing with the cops. Whose fault is it that I’m being harrased? It’s their fault, but at the same time, I know the rules. That’s what I’m trying to do with this album, is just not leave the critics anywhere to go. I want to make it so good and so thorough, that they’ll just have to conceed in some areas of their critique.

You say you’re the son of Kanye. What does the son of Childish Gambino look like?
I just hope that he doesn’t feel sad about who he is. I feel like the son of me doesn’t have to worry about that. I look at Kanye like Steven Hawking, he’s one of the brightest minds of our generation. But because he’s a black rapper he’s put in a box. Like when he was screaming about Justin Timberlake getting 15 minutes to perform even though Kanye has more Grammys than Michael Jackson—that frustration lives in me. And I don’t have the same level of frustration because I can do more than him—I’m a little better because people don’t look at me as a rapper, and my skin is lighter, and people aren’t as threatened. And Kanye has this wealth of knowledge, but people stop him because he’s an aggressive black male. I can go a little further, I can have the show, I can do the music. I understand how textures work in music, I can go a little further. I want the son of Childish to not even have to face those challenges.

The 6th Letter is Bigger Than Canada

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The 6th Letter is 20 minutes late. I’m set to meet the rapper at a restaurant in downtown Toronto, and fortunately for me, the Knicks are playing the Raptors in a pre-season game, the first of many New York versus Toronto battles this year. The game is especially fitting because of how much both teams borrowed from each other during the off-season in order to compete at a higher level—an analogous scenario to the one 6th Letter finds himself in after three years of making music.

Of all the latent talent current steeping in Toronto, the 6th Letter has been brewing for the longest amount of time with no concrete project. He was only 18 years old when his debut mixtape, Go Green—a light-hearted and easy going listen over boom-bap production—dropped in April of 2011. That mixtape sparked a buzz in the Greater Toronto area that was then supplemented by 6th’s heavy live performance circuit. He performed at nearly 50 events in 2011, opening up for every rapper who came to Toronto on a tour stop before the borders were cloistered-off to American artists for fear of violence.

He rode the wave of hype alongside the Bakers Club—a Toronto collective which consists of Raz Fresco, Brandon Chey, Lo Thraxx, Chill Will, and Brisk—helping those individuals find their voice in rap while 6th himself stayed in the background. Now, the 21-year old rapper is ready to have his coming out party on the back of his 23-song feature length mixtape NorthernPlayalisticGetHighMuzik, which is being entirely produced by Fresco.

His old school, THC-infused rhymes have received praise from a city that normally hates its native talent, and he’s also attracted out-of-town tastemakers, and specifically Jonny Shipes—a New Yorker who founded the Smokers Club tour and online paraphernalia store. Shipes would go on to be instrumental in the rise of Joey Bada$$ and the Pro Era movement, leading some to wonder if he transplanted some of the Torontonian’s ideas into a fledgling New York rap collective. Toronto’s Bakers Club was less nostalgic and more splintered in their content, but the parallels between Pro Era were there. Boom-bap may have originated in New York, but its resurgence can be directly tied to the young rappers of Toronto in 2010—a full two years before Joey’s “Survival Tactics” caught fire online.

When the 6th Letter finally arrives to the Mexican restaurant, he shares some edibles, so immediately all issues of punctuality are forgiven. Sporting a Wu-Tang sweater with a golden chronic leaf pendant around his neck, the wiry, bespectacled rapper tells me about his upcoming project, explaining how it’s a culmination of influences. He also believes that it will justify his past couple years of silence. Because the fact is, NorthernPlayalisticGetHighMuzik is an album that could only be made by a Canadian rapper—one who sits literally on top of the biggest market for hip-hop music in the world and cherry picks his favorite influences. The mixtape is rooted in Eastern boom-bap technicalities, influenced by the West Coast’s g-funk sound, and infused with prime Southern cadences—an album made by an artist with no coastal alliances.

As our conversation draws on and the edibles begin to kick in, the Toronto Raptors doll out punishment to the Knicks on the big screen. For fans of all-things-North, this could be interpreted as a moment to mark the start of a changing of the guard in the East—and for two art-forms as closesly entwined as basketball and hip-hop, I can’t help but wonder if the same would hold true for our music scene. Or maybe that’s just the edibles.

How was the A3C Hip-Hop Festival in Atlanta?
I was going to go to A3C but I got sent back at the border because I was being too honest at the wrong time. They asked why I was visiting and I mentioned that I was performing and they said I needed a visa for that. So I only made it to the Buffalo border.

Damn. Where do things stand with the creation of NorthernPlayalisticGetHighMuzik?
I started recording this project in December of 2011. It’s about 75 to 80 percent done, I just have to tweak it and create some visuals to accompany it. Since I made Go Green, I’ve gone through a lot of shit in life. I finished high school and decided to work on my craft full-time instead of going to college, so I’ve had to deal with the consequences that came with that decision. But also, a lot of time was spent on me just trying to find my own sound and path in the field of music and just committing to what I want to do and refining my sound as much as possible. I reached a halfway point when I was recording this album and I had to take a break and recognize where I wanted to go with it. I haven’t put out a project in a long time, so it’s time for me to come with a full body of work that’s cohesive.

So what is it starting to sound like?
This project reflects everything that I was surrounded by growing up, from the Reggae music to the ’90s rap that my parents raised me on, like Wu Tang, Tribe, Busta. My music is like a collage. I take some pieces from all the music I’ve ever enjoyed and then I sprinkle elements from every day life into it. The weed I smoke, the clothes I wear, the people I interact with in Toronto. Everything has managed to find a way to be represented in this album.

You mentioned a lot of musical influences from all over the States. Is it hard to keep everything sounding authentic with so many varied styles?
You need a balance. I love the West Coast mainly for the weather, the weed, and the g-funk sound. Lately I’ve been into a lot more West coast stuff—even though the East Coast boom-bap is where I came from. As I got older I started getting myself into Canadian hip-hop because it was literally surrounding me. K-os, Ghettosocks, Saukrates, all of those guys had a huge influence on me. I’m trying to come forth with my own genre based on what they did. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the mixtape reflect the North from everything to the production techniques, all the way to the cadences.

How do the members of the Bakers Club interact amongst themselves?
Everyone in the Bakers Club helps each other and pushes each other. Raz Fresco produced this entire album with me. We give each other pointers, lyrically and production wise. Every time anyone in the Club creates something, that propels the rest of us and pushes us to be better.

Talk about your relationship with New York tastemaker Jonny Shipes.
With Jonny Shipes, I reached out to him because I saw what he was doing with the Smoker’s Club cinematic shit and I wanted him to hear my music. One time I saw him post his email and I sent him stuff to get a response. He sent me back emails saying he liked my shit and that I had potential. A month or two after that, he gave me the opportunity to open for the Smoker’s Club tour with Smoke DZA, Mac Miler, Big KRIT, and Currensy. That was the moment everything clicked and I realized that I could do this shit for a living. I still remember the date. It was October 1, 2010.

Pro Era came after Bakers Club and was impacted heavily by Shipes’ influence, right?
I feel like we have a lot in common but I wouldn’t say Pro Era are swagger jacking us, but there are some similarities between our crews. I’ll leave it at that.

Who would be your ideal collaboration?
For someone to hit me up and ask me to hop on their song it would have to be Big Boi. His flows are imppecable. When it comes to me trying to conjure up cadences, Big Boi is one of my biggest influences outside of MC Eiht.

If I could create any song I wanted with anyone I wanted on it, it would be a track with all the members of Bakers Club, K-Os, Saukrates, and Drake.

People have this notion that creating music in Canada is easier because of government grants. Do you think that government funding has any impact on the art created?
I’ll put it this way. If you rely on a grant to make music that’s cool, but when you struggle to create your art, that makes it more authentic to me. A bunch of my homies have home studios and we rent studios sometimes and most of the videos we shoot don’t have a budget. But that makes the finished product better to me.

So what’s your end goal? To be as popular as you can independently or to sign with a major?
There are so many different avenues I can use to reach my destination, but right now I don’t know whether I want to stay independent or go mainstream and become a label rapper. People stop me on the street all the time to say they like my music. One time, some random dude tried to freestyle battle me and we ended up starting a little cypher outside of McDonalds. So I know I have the buzz to be popular locally, but I want more than that.

Do you think it’s possible to find success if you just stay local for long enough?
It’s possible to find some success here. Toronto can be your homebase, but you can’t become popular nationally by becoming popular just locally, like you might be able to in Atlanta or Chicago. My mom was born in Jamaica and moved here. In fact, my mom was going to live in Flatbush, Brooklyn with my dad, but she changed her mind and came to live over here. It’s crazy to think how different things might have been if New York was my home instead of Toronto.

Why do people from the US not look at us like a major hub of talent?
As silly as it sounds, it’s because we’re Canadian and people just don’t take us seriously.

Notorious R.O.B.’s Ten Crack Commandments

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The mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, smokes crack cocaine. After months of questions and allegations, he came out and admitted to smoking the substance a year ago while in a drunken stupor. This is stunning for so many reasons, and not for the fact that Toronto’s mayor hasn’t moved on to a more fashionable drug like Molly, choosing instead to hang out in basements with Ethiopians while pretending to star in his own New Jack City remake. Also, there’s the issue of him not remembering when exactly he smoked it, due to the fact that he frequently gets so drunk that doing hard drugs doesn’t register as exceedingly memorable to him. What he does know is that it was roughly a year ago (he’s been mayor since 2010) and that he’s not addicted. This is a sensitive time for us Torontonians, so we ask you to kindly save your Jay Z, “Tom Ford (Remix)” jokes from unsuspecting Twitter timelines everywhere.

We’re not proud that we (or, more accurately, our parents) voted this blundering behemoth into office, but now that the facts are coming to light publicly, the least we can do is laugh at it together.

Undoubtedly, the biggest question that revolves around RoFo is: how did he manage to not lose any weight in spite of his hobby? The only other big-boned entity to ever be so deeply ingrained in the crack game was Biggie Smalls. Therefore, it stands to reason that Rob Ford probably looked to Big as a blueprint for how to properly handle crack cocaine while still having some semblance of a normal life. And while the police case is still pending and all the evidence has yet to be revealed, it’s rumored that Ford created his own set of Ten Crack Commandments, modeled loosely after the Notorious B.I.G. song. We’ve managed to obtain a copy and have provided the necessary footnotes for non-Torontonians to better understand.

1. Never let no one know how much debt the city holds.

Rob Ford is all about slashing taxes and services so the common man can have more money in his pocket. This is validated by pointing to the city’s yearly budget deficit at the start of the year and acting on it. Then at the end of the year—when it’s shown that the city has a surplus due to only some of the budget being allocated—the mayor proclaims victory while taking credit for something that would’ve happened naturally. Fun fact: it’s illegal for the City of Toronto to ever be in debt, so Rob is safer smoking crack-cocaine than mismanaging funds.

2. Never let ‘em know your next move.

In May, Rob denied allegations that he smoked crack cocaine by using verbal jujitsu. Now, out of nowhere, he’s decided to come clean and fess up. Nobody knows why he decided to do so today, but it may have something to do with the fact that the evidence collected by police will soon be made public.

3. Never trust nobody that you didn’t play football with.

All of Rob’s former football buddies hold positions of power in city hall. David Price, the city’s logistics manager, was a former coach; Doug Ford, Rob’s brother, was also involved in high school football. In fact, the only football related personalities that haven’t benefited from Rob being mayor are the players—to whom he allegedly referred with some choice racist slurs during the video in question.

4. Never get high, in somebody else’s ward.

The video was filmed at 15 Windsor Rd., which falls into Ward 2 in Toronto’s municipality division. Ward 2 was formerly led by Rob Ford, but is now under the control of his brother Doug. This just goes to prove that if you’re going to do something illegal, do it somewhere that people respect you.

5. Never smoke no crack where a camera phone rests at.

It may never be known who exactly took the video (since they’re probably dead) but there’s a lesson to be learned. Before smoking crack-cocaine, make sure that everyone present drops their phones into a cigar box before hand, Sons of Anarchy style.

6. That God damn reddit, dead it.

One of the biggest igniters for the scandal were Twitter and the Toronto community in Reddit. The local page boasts one of the most active communities on the website—second only to New York. It’s a forum where a majority of the smaller news websites of Toronto get their information and has been responsible for breaking news first and organizing mailing campaigns and protests. Rob Ford doesn’t strike me as a redditor, but had he known about the page he may have been able to plan his moves more carefully.

7. Keep your family and business closely entwined.

Go read this story about Rob Ford’s family drama surrounding drug dealing, violence, and the KKK. It’s enough to fill an entire season of Maury.

8. Keep all weight on you.

Hahaha. Cause he’s fat!

9. If you ain’t getting bags stay the fuck from police chiefs.

After Toronto’s Police Chief announced that they were in possession of the tape, Doug Ford demanded that the Chief step down due to his “bias” against the mayor. By this logic, next time you get a parking ticket you can appeal it due to the arresting officer being “bias” against people parked illegally.

10. A strong word called conspiracy. If they ain’t got the evidence, deny everything.

When someone doesn’t have any hard evidence, saying that you “do not use crack cocaine” is a smart move because a.) it implies innocence, and b.) can be upheld even in the face of evidence proclaiming the opposite. Admitting that you’ve used it doesn’t mean that you’re currently using it. Same goes for the phrase “I am not addicted to crack cocaine.” Until there’s evidence, everything is hearsay. Rob knew this, and now that the evidence is about to come forward, his initial remarks stay true.

With our luck, this will be the year the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup, only to have that be the second most talked about event from Toronto (well, besides Drake). If he wasn’t a crackhead, Rob Ford would be a very admirable super villain. Not the villain Toronto needs right now, but the one it deserves.