In the span of one weekend, Donald Glover’s musical persona, Childish Gambino, dropped two new singles. Both were performed on Saturday Night Live as well as a music video released for “This is America,” a genius ballad on how the United States is a chaotic wave of violence that gets blossomed over by distractions from the media and entertainment world. It’s a bold and different pursuit from Glover, who has recently exploded into pop culture and high stardom in his change of musical lyricism and genre breaking, as well as his career as a producer and star of the hit show Atlanta and his upcoming portrayal of Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story. In this groundbreaking controversial video, Glover is shown in confederate pants and blows out a man’s brain with a bag over his head and begins to dance eccentrically. As backup dancers fill the front frame with Gambino, we see violence and chaos consume in the background, with the lyrics changing from “This is America” to lyrics about getting girls and money, criticizing today’s pop culture obsession with trap songs and meme culture.
The most shocking moment comes next, when Gambino walks through a room with a singing, dancing gospel, and within a span of just one second, he is given an automatic rifle and shoots them all to death with one stroke. Immediately after, the song goes back to dancing and energetic distraction as more violence, suicide, and a horse riding through depicting the end of times occurring.
Gambino delivers a sharp-razored message on how individuals choose to ignore and detract themselves from the violence and reality of our world today. We are consumers who choose to look at what’s in front of us, of what’s safe and happy, instead of focusing or talking about the cruelty of others, and the ongoing deaths and destruction occurring to our country’s innocent minorities, children, and other lives being lost every day in horrific acts of gun violence and rage. Not even churches are safe, which we see Gambino reference a real life shooting that occurred. The dancing school children indicate how not even the students of America are safe from the threat of gun violence. What’s even further driven in this song and video, is how easily Gambino shoots these guns and kills these people, emphasizing just how easy it is for anyone to end a life.
This is the most important music video and one of, if not, the best song of 2018. Gambino has delivered again and reminds his listeners and anyone who chooses to watch to understand what’s going on with our country; that our representation of ourselves as “gucci” and happy is all just on the surface. Underneath that surface, there is darkness, violence, and death.