Childish Gambino said that he just wanted to make ‘good music’, referring to his interview with Vogue at Met Gala 2018, but as much he is humbling himself in front of the cameras and not saying too much for the press (since it was the only interview who asked about his new single), we cannot have enough of his new single ‘This is America’. Five days have passed and it’s still ranking high on the trending list and has been the most talked about song, sparking so much insights and controversies. But as much as it is given so much attention today, is it really going to last in our heads or are we going to forget what the song’s true message conveys? Here I talk and unravel what this song is all about, rather than the catchy tune and odd dancing.
They say it’s not just a song but it is a surreal experience. You clearly saw the music video (I assume that we all watched it) and there are many symbolism about the song that talks about the black community and black social issues.
1.) First Gunshot
The song started with a man who sat down and played on his guitar. This is America started upbeat, like happy choirs on the background singing. Gambino dance oddly with the music and went towards the guitarist and with no warning, Gambino just shot the guy in the head.
The first thing I observed was the transition of the music. How the beginning of the song contrasted in the end of the song, from happy guitar and choir kind of vibe to heavy trap music. When the guy was gunned down and Gambino sang ‘This is America’, all I could think was how scary and accurate it was. Some sees it as the gun violence that is recently happening in different states and how it’s easily forgotten like how Gambino just walked away from the guy he shot.
It was also said that the guy was wearing a Cuban Guayabera and playing a Cuban guitar. The guy being masked down is inspired by the inmates in Guantanamo, an American prison for suspected Cuban terrorists, who are heavily tortured and some are penalized with death sentences. While shooting the man, Gambino is said to be posing like Jim Crow, the man who was thought to be a dumb black slave, who was acted by a white actor in the 1830’s.
2.) School Children Dancing Amid of Violence
It’s very weird seeing Gambino and kids dancing, trying to be the center of attention as we lose focus of what’s happening around. It took me three times to realize that there was a guy who jumped from the second floor and Death riding his white horse in the background. But it really depends on you what you want to focus on, the catchy dance moves and music or the out of focus massacres and destruction. I think that the school children and Gambino dancing with them is the representation of how much we praise Black talent and culture but we forget the issues that black people have to face.
Also, it’s a way for telling how we are much focused with traditional media and we are more intrigued with celebrities or superstars but when it comes to real social issues, everyone seems to not want to put their focus on it so much and have the tendency to forget about it the next day.
3.) Choir Singing the Gospel of Greed
Remember the 2015 Charleston Church Shooting? Well, if you don’t know or forgot then it’s about nine African-American church choirs who were murdered by White Supremacist, Dylann Roof. That was embodied in the music video and it’s scary to know that it happened in real life. The shooting was supposed to be a stance from the white supremacist to create a race war. I repeat, that shooting happened on 2015, three years ago. That’s not that long ago.
4.) What’s with the Old Cars?
Let’s put Motorsport by Migos as a contrast of ‘This is America’. The Rap Industry or other type of music that loves to rhyme about the greens and the showing off with their new Porsche or Lamborghini. But Gambino; an RnB and Rap Artist, only presented old cars in the music video? I think that it marks a question, are we really fixing our problems as a nation or are we stalling the people, especially the younger minds? My opinion is that we are very likely to brag and show off fancy cars and the bling but when inside, we are actually going backwards. Meaning, that despite how fancy we are to look, the issues that is happening has still no solution, especially the issues of the black community.
Wrapping it up
Donald Glover can sing, act, dance, make comedy, and direct movies. He is proclaimed by others as a modern renaissance man. With the messages in our heads, I really do hope that people can understand what he and his team who made this song possible are trying to say. It might not be trending for so-or-so months but I think that people will want to embalm Gambino’s music.