Priscilla Hopper media manager
Dropping amid political and cultural clash our country currently faces on a daily basis, Donald Glover’s “This is America” touches on black life and American culture. Otherwise known as Childish Gambino, Glover showcases his evolved sense of self awareness and political activism through his revolutionary rap.
His fire verses compose his first single since Awaken, My Love! in 2016 which coincided with his Saturday Night Live (SNL) appearance. And that night, his overall SNL performance left the audience in laughter and paralyzed those experiencing his music video with shivers rushing down their spines (not to mention the feeling of getting abruptly slapped in the face with a reality check).
The song itself is undeniably great. With contributions from Young Thug, Blocboy JB, Slim Jxmmi and 21 Savage with the occasional “woo” and “skrrt,” this anthem is easily on track to be a knockout. Gambino’s dynamic, expressive music has grown since his first studio album Camp which easily shines through his transparent statements about racism and oppression. And this crucial message screams: “WAKE UP AMERICA! LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES.”
The music video, directed by Hiro Murai, opens on a guitar perched on a chair in a warehouse with Gambino’s back to the camera. While a light choral tone hums, the camera pans out and focuses on a new man playing the guitar. Gambino begins dancing, gradually making his way to a hand gun, shooting the guitarist in the back of the head. The first gunshot.
The song transitions from smooth tones to a trap sound. This immediately takes the viewers to another state of mind, where they begin to slowly realize the pandemonium of our current society—knowing there is little effort to change it.
To jump from one scene to the next, Gambino grooves with school children aimed to distract the viewers from the violence surrounding them, the same way society is constantly unaware of the real problems plaguing America. Intertwining popular dances like the Gwara Gwara and the Shoot with other traditional African dances, Gambino easily impresses any pair of eyes glued to his artistry. Gambino continues to enjoy his version of the world, seemingly unbothered by the disarray behind him. In his next attack, Gambino guns down a choir, mirroring the Charleston massacre in 2015 in which a white supremacist killed nine black people in a church basement.
Notice, each time Gambino appears shooting down his victims, he delicately places his machinery in a comforting cloth. Although Gambino abandons his casualties, he ensures his weaponry is protected in the innocent hands of a young man.
In the final scene, Gambino is seen uncontrollably running through a dark hall trying to escape the mob chasing him. This derives from the history of black Americans having to run to save their own lives.
Like Kendrick Lamar and his anger toward racism throughout DAMN., Gambino’s symbols of black equality have been a strong theme throughout his music. In addition, Eminem’s album Revival from late 2017 touches on drug use, addiction, gun violence and our society’s culture. Like Eminem’s vision, Gambino’s fusion of catchy and melodic rhythm mixed with dark beats and visual chaos exclusively saturate his message.
The brutal truth in Gambino’s video juxtaposes its cheerful choruses and harsh verses to advance his message. He reminds us that if America allows itself to remain blinded by ignorance, its problems will eventually catch up to each and every one of us. We, as a population, have the ability to mold to the troubles our nation faces, and unfortunately, the actions aimed to change our disorder are rare. “This is America” needs more praise than 90 million views. If versions of type of radical, combative message toward the popularity of racism can continue, our world will forever be changed for the better.