This Is America (song)

"This Is America"
This Is America (single cover) 2018.jpg
Single by Childish Gambino
ReleasedMay 5, 2018 (2018-05-05)
FormatDigital download
Genre
Length3:45
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Donald Glover
  • Ludwig Göransson
Childish Gambino singles chronology
"Terrified"
(2017)
"This Is America"
(2018)
"Summertime Magic"
(2018)
Music video
"This Is America" on YouTube

"This Is America" is a song by American rapper Childish Gambino. Written by Donald Glover, Ludwig Göransson, and Jeffery Lamar Williams,[4] and produced by Glover and Göransson, it was released on May 5, 2018, at the same time that Gambino was hosting that day's episode of Saturday Night Live. The song features background vocals by American rappers Young Thug (who also has writing credit as Williams), Slim Jxmmi, BlocBoy JB, Quavo, and 21 Savage.[5][6] The song addresses the wider issue of gun violence in the United States, the high rate of mass shootings in the United States, along with longstanding racism and discrimination against African Americans.

The song's accompanying music video was directed by Japanese-American filmmaker Hiro Murai, a frequent Gambino collaborator.[7][8] According to RCA Records, the song is not the first single from Gambino's upcoming studio album.[9][10] "This Is America" became the 31st song to debut at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming both Gambino's first number one and top ten single in the country. It has also topped the charts in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The song won in all four of its nominated categories at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Music Video. This made Gambino the first hip-hop artist to win Record of the Year and Song of the Year, and "This Is America" the first rap song to win the former.[11]

Composition

The song features a gospel-style choir and background contributions from various American rappers. Young Thug, Slim Jxmmi, BlocBoy JB, 21 Savage and Quavo each deliver an ad-lib.[8][12] Young Thug returns to supply the song's outro.[6] The lyrics primarily address being black in the United States and gun violence in the country.[13] It also touches on police brutality.[14][15] Pitchfork's Stephen Kearse described the song as a representation of the "tightrope of being black", with the song "built on the sharp contrast between jolly, syncretic melodies and menacing trap cadences".[16]

Media outlets reported that a number of listeners accused Gambino of plagiarism over "This Is America", pointing out the similarities between the song and "American Pharaoh" by Jase Harley.[17][18] CBS News stated, "The tracks have a similar sound, and share similar themes in the lyrics." Harley stated that he felt "This Is America" was influenced by his song, but that he does not have an issue with it. Glover's manager, Fam Rothstein, denied any plagiarism.[19]