• Posted by:Rae Kiragu

    2018-05-09

    05

    2018

  • What You Might Have Missed In Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ (ROTW)

That this particular jam was released a matter of days after Kanye’s now infamous quote on four hundred years of slavery being a ‘choice’, doesn’t seem like a coincidence but rather a perfectly timed release.

While speaking to TMZ, Kanye referenced slavery saying;

”When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of you?”

Naturally, those comments have made Kanye the talk of the month, with everyone online (ordinary people and celebrities alike) talking about issues revolving around the existence of white supremacists and the oppression of people of color.

Since that has been the running conversation online, it would therefore seem appropriate that Childish Gambino, release ‘This Is America’, a jam that seems to encapsulate all of those issues in a thrilling, melodic and dance filled rap single.

Since Donald Glover has had quite the experience in writing and producing intelligent scripts for hit TV shows such as ‘Community’ and ‘Atlanta’, it’s really no surprise that he chooses clever imagery to pass on very important issues.

Directed by Hiro Murai, ‘This is America’ is a four minute long music video which I’ve so far learnt, has many hidden meanings. I’m now going to share the few that I managed to find out about in a short play by play.

Gun Violence;

Lyrics; ‘Guns in my area, I gotta carry ’em’

Throughout the video, Childish Gambino is seen shooting people but what you may have missed out on, is the fact that in each instance the gun he uses is taken away from him by someone who appears to be holding a cloth and treating the gun with the utmost care. For some, this is taken as a rhetoric on the ongoing battle on Gun Laws in America, where people have often felt that guns are treated a lot better than (in some cases) people.

 

 

Racism;

Lyrics: This is America, Don’t catch you slippin up.

If there’s one thing you definitely note right off the bat with this music video, it’s that while there is all this dancing happening, there is also a lot of chaos going on around the whole time. One YouTube reviewer cited that it may have been a reference to black America being acknowledged only in terms of its contribution to urban culture e.g. through dance, all while the main issues that affect them (i.e. police brutality, gun violence etc) take the back seat.

Also at the start of the video, Childish Gambino shoots his first victim while assuming a comical stance, that was quickly turned into this meme, which I happened upon on Snoop Dogg’s instagram.

The thing is though, this ‘comical stance’ was believe it or not, a historical reference to Jim Crow.

 

 

Wikipedia.

Jim Crow — definition — a theater character by Thomas D. Rice and an ethnic depiction in accordance with contemporary Caucasian ideas of African-Americans and their culture.

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States.

Seen in the video, this depiction is probably the strongest and loudest reference to racism. In the video, Childish Gambino makes erratic face movements that from research, were the same facial expressions that white actors (in black face) would make as a mockery of what they thought the then freed African-American slaves looked like and behaved.

 

Homage to music and dance made by Africans and African Americans;

The jam itself houses ad libs by some of raps iconic names from Young Thug, to 21 Savage, and in the video, it is being said that Childish Gambino’s choice to be shirtless wearing only two chains is an homage to Fela Kuti. 

Also, yes. Childish Gambino absolutely bodies the Shoki and the Gwara Gwara in ‘This Is America’, both of which are popular African dances.

Suicide;

Not too long ago, Logic and Alessia Cara graced our Record of the Week with the jam whose title was a suicide hotline number. Perhaps referencing mental health and how America is plagued by the sheer number of suicide victims, at 2:13, there is a man who is seen to be leaping to his death all while the singing and the dancing continues.

Bible reference;

The fact that this four minute long video even had time to feature a bible reference is to me, the actual testament to Childish Gambino’s epic story telling and producing skills.

In the book of Revelation, there is a verse that states; 

Then I looked and saw a pale horse. Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed close behind.

Hades was the Greek god of the underworld (hell). Like earlier mentioned, there are plenty of hidden messages in the video and the fact that at 2:36, there is a hooded figure riding a white horse while a police car follows behind, might be the imagery that reflects that particular bible verse.

 

Truth be told, there are many more messages one can find in the video to ‘This Is America’, a video that has currently garnered (as of today) over forty million views in under a week.

What can definitely be said and applauded though, is the stark difference between the amount of black history and current information that Childish Gambino seems to have, and the lack thereof when it comes to Kanye West’s recent comments about slavery.

As it’s now your record of the week (ROTW), here is the music video to ‘This is America’ (Which will be followed by the song’s lyrics.)

 

LYRICS TO ‘THIS IS AMERICA’ BY CHILDISH GAMBINO
 
 
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

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)

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

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)

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

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)

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 en Oaxaca (woah)
They gonna find you that blocka (blaow)

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, 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

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

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Rae Kiragu
Holla at me

Rae Kiragu

Entertainment News Reporter, Editor and Radio Show Host at Homeboyz Radio
Rae Kiragu is an entertainment news writer and radio show presenter. Forward entertainment news pieces and new music to her via rae@homeboyzradio.co.ke
Rae Kiragu
Holla at me

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