Music Music reviews

On my stereo this week: ‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino.

Whether you are familiar with Donald Glover thanks to his music endeavours or his foray into film, and I’m specifically thinking of his role as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars story, there is no doubt he has left a massive cultural imprint on 2018. But it has to be said that Glover’s song This Is America over his role as Lando Calrissian was surely the biggest cultural talking point of last year, right!?

Not always the biggest fan of modern hip-hop and rap This Is America is a song that I simply couldn’t ignore last year. It has been said repeatedly that the song and the accompanying music video are inseparable, both a landmark – one as a protest song and the other in understanding the shocking and exploitative language of cinema. Interestingly, some fans are still scouring the music video frame-by-frame for hidden meanings. 

The song addresses for most people the wider issues of gun violence and especially what it is like to be a presucuted black person in America. Interestingly, the video right from the opening moments with its afro folk-inspired introduction and electro beats cleverly lulls us into believing this is going to be a fun song. But just shy of the minute mark, Glover’s character pulls out a gun and shoots a hooded figure sitting in a chair. Instantly we are left in shock and awe as Glover dances through a massive warehouse through the rest of the music video distracting us from the mayhem in the background.

At the 61st Grammy Awards ceremony earlier this year, This Is America took out the award for Record of the Year. In doing so it became the first rap song to win the prestigious award. The song would also take home the prize for Best Music Video. And while Danny Glover was a no-show in accepting the awards, This Is America and Glover will be forever etched into our minds. I think we will be talking about this song for a long time into the future. Moreover, I don’t even know what to make of the plagiarism accusations levelled at Glover that his song is eerily similar to American Pharaoh by NYC rapper Jase Harley, who strangely seems to be very cool about it!? 

Anyway, Glover or should I say Childish Gambino is set to return to our shores in mid July after cancelling his sold-out Australian tour last November after suffering a foot injury at a concert in Dallas. For fans it will likely be a bittersweet farewell too, as Glover has repeatedly said that he plans on retiring his alter-ego in the not to distant future. High on the list of songs fans will likely expect to hear will be Feels Like Summer, Redbone and of course This Is America. 

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

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