Song of the Day #3,601: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino dropped the video of the year right before he debuted his new song on Saturday Night Live last week. ‘This is America,’ a jarring but somehow catchy blend of gospel and trap, is a good song but a fantastic short film, one that has blown up the internet to the tune of 50 million views as of this writing.

Tackling gun violence, police brutality, Jim Crow, social media, black culture and a hundred other things, this is the video that launched a thousand think pieces, and I can’t pretend to be qualified to come up with one of my own. I’d rather let the video speak for itself.

Donald Glover is currently on fire, dominating almost every media landscape. In addition to this musical release, his TV show Atlanta is a critical darling and he’s co-starring as fan favorite Lando Calrissian in this month’s Solo. I expect him to headline a Broadway musical by July.

I feel a little bit of pride for being on the Glover bandwagon going back eight years to the second season of Community, where his winning performance as lovable goofball Troy gave few hints of his serious artistic depth (dare I throw around the word “genius?”).

Atlanta, in particular, is the trippiest, most thought-provoking show on television. It features nuanced characters and big laughs while delivering a heady, metaphorically rich thesis on what it means to be black in America.

This video lasts only four minutes, so it has no room for nuanced characters or big laughs, but it’s metaphorically rich AF.

[Intro: Choir]
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

[Bridge: Childish Gambino & Young Thug]
We just wanna party
Party just for you
We just want the money
Money just for you
I know you wanna party
Party just for me
Girl, you got me dancin’ (yeah, girl, you got me dancin’)
Dance and shake the frame
We just wanna party (yeah)
Party just for you (yeah)
We just want the money (yeah)
Money just for you (you)
I know you wanna party (yeah)
Party just for me (yeah)
Girl, you got me dancin’ (yeah, girl, you got me dancin’)
Dance and shake the frame (you)

[Chorus: Childish Gambino]
This is America
Don’t catch you slippin’ up
Don’t catch you slippin’ up
Look what I’m whippin’ up
This is America (woo)
Don’t catch you slippin’ up
Don’t catch you slippin’ up
Look what I’m whippin’ up

[Verse 1: Childish Gambino, Blocboy JB, Slim Jxmmi, Young Thug, & 21 Savage]
This is America (skrrt, skrrt, woo)
Don’t catch you slippin’ up (ayy)
Look at how I’m livin’ now
Police be trippin’ now (woo)
Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy)
Guns in my area (word, my area)
I got the strap (ayy, ayy)
I gotta carry ’em
Yeah, yeah, I’ma go into this (ugh)
Yeah, yeah, this is guerilla (woo)
Yeah, yeah, I’ma go get the bag
Yeah, yeah, or I’ma get the pad
Yeah, yeah, I’m so cold like yeah (yeah)
I’m so dope like yeah (woo)
We gon’ blow like yeah (straight up, uh)

[Refrain: Choir & Childish Gambino]
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody
You go tell somebody
Grandma told me
Get your money, Black man (get your money)
Get your money, Black man (get your money)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Black man

[Chorus: Childish Gambino, Slim Jxmmi, & Young Thug]
This is America (woo, ayy)
Don’t catch you slippin’ up (woo, woo, don’t catch you slippin’, now)
Don’t catch you slippin’ up (ayy, woah)
Look what I’m whippin’ up (Slime!)
This is America (yeah, yeah)
Don’t catch you slippin’ up (woah, ayy)
Don’t catch you slippin’ up (ayy, woo)
Look what I’m whippin’ up (ayy)

[Verse 2: Childish Gambino, Quavo, Young Thug, & 21 Savage]
Look how I’m geekin’ out (hey)
I’m so fitted (I’m so fitted, woo)
I’m on Gucci (I’m on Gucci)
I’m so pretty (yeah, yeah)
I’m gon’ get it (ayy, I’m gon’ get it)
Watch me move (blaow)
This a celly (ha)
That’s a tool (yeah)
On my Kodak (woo, Black)
Ooh, know that (yeah, know that, hold on)
Get it (get it, get it)
Ooh, work it (21)
Hunnid bands, hunnid bands, hunnid bands (hunnid bands)
Contraband, contraband, contraband (contraband)
I got the plug in Oaxaca (woah)
They gonna find you like blocka (blaow)

[Refrain: Choir, Childish Gambino, & Young Thug]
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody
America, I just checked my following list and
You go tell somebody
You mothafuckas owe me
Grandma told me
Get your money, Black man (black man)
Get your money, Black man (black man)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Black man
(One, two, three, get down)
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody
You go tell somebody
Grandma told me, “Get your money”
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Black man

[Outro: Young Thug]
You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain’t life to a dog
For a big dog

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,601: ‘This is America’ – Childish Gambino

  1. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    I too felt similar pride when everyone around my school was commenting on what a genius Donald Glover is or how catchy but thought provoking his new song is. Maddie and I have often lamented when artists we loved and followed heavily gained a bigger audience. On one hand you’re happy that the artist you love now has a bigger audience of those who appreciate them on the other it’s almost like you had this secret relationship with you and them that now many others want to join in on and almost coopt. You feel this new need to somehow validate the fact that you’ve been stanning Childish Gambino for a while before everyone else now finally got around to it but I take solace in the fact that I will always know that I’ve been a devout fan from the start and everyone else has now joined the party.

    This was a broad statement by Childish Gambino. I particularly like how he combined some of the vocal elements from “Awaken, my Love” with the rap elements from his 1st 2 albums. The rapping on this song is simple yet potent and the chorus is catchy and almost symphonic. The song is incredibly well produced by Ludwig Gorannson and Glover delivers a great vocal performance but yes I will concede that the music video directed by the extremely talented Hiro Murai is the main selling point here.

    I look forward to this album and hope that he adds in some of his more complicated intricate rapping patterns from his past albums as well as showcases his amazing singing voice even more.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    Glover is indeed on fire and my son is on Cloud 9 basking in his success. This video requires repeat viewing to fully appreciate it, so it makes sense that it has been viewed so many times and is the subject of such analysis.

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