Childish Gambino drops new song 'This Is America'

Kelvin Reese
May 9, 2018

In the middle of his appearance as host and musical guest on "Saturday Night Live", Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) dropped a video for a new song that veers between comedy, commentary and surrealism called "This Is America". The performance by actor-writer-musician Donald Glover has gotten a lot of attention on social media since its weekend debut. It has been viewed more than 36 million times on YouTube. How else to read Glover's gunning down of an entire choir or his execution of a hooded figure at the beginning of the video than as a pointed rebuke of this country's fascination with weapons of war and its various abuses of the "right" to bear arms?

The song's lyrics have a similar duality, shifting quickly from lighthearted ("I know you wanna party/ Party just for me/ Girl, you got me dancin'/ Dancin' free") to heavy ("This is America/ Police be trippin' now/ Yeah, this is America/ Guns in my area"). This is America really is contemporary America - it is Glover's America, the average African-American's America, and now, it is also Donald Trump's America.

The choreography shifts from gun violence, to suicide, to viral videos.

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"We have, in effect, normalized black death in America", he told The Current.

It is a video that needs no explanation, and we won't bore you with anymore of it. The gunning down of seemingly innocent black figures (notably a church choir) conjures memories of all-too-many recent attacks on minority groups in the United States, whilst Childish Gambino's subsequent dancing with schoolchildren serves, perhaps, as a critique of distraction politics and the black entertainer archetype.

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