11 May 2018 - Childish Gambino's "This is America" video tackles gun violence and racism in the US
Childish Gambino captures the grim surrealism of being black in America
Mitchell S Jackson (The Guardian, 10/05/2018)
Once upon a night in my black life, I bought a 9mm Glock 16 replete with an extended clip off the street, bought it because I’d been robbed for the drugs I sold a time or two and decided against being a mark again, that the next dude that tried me would suffer bullets.
Decades ago, that was my America. Decades later, it’s an America that still exists for untold others. And though that shouldn’t be news, it’s a truth worth reminding us. In his artful and provocative new video This is America, Donald Glover, as his hip-hop alias Childish Gambino, attests to as much: “Yeah, this is America (woo ayy) / Guns in my area (word, my area) I got the strap (ayy, ayy) / I gotta carry ’em.”
The film is directed by Hiro Murai, Glover’s frequent collaborator on Atlanta, and it is indeed ballistic. It begins in a warehouse with the artist Calvin the Second shown seated and strumming a guitar while choral sounds and choir voices sing: “We just wanna party.” Glover, who has been in the background dances over, bare-chested, mimicking the expressions and gestures of a minstrel. He proceeds to pull a gun from his waistband and shoot Calvin in the back of his now bag-covered head. After that murder, Glover shouts “This is America”, and the music shifts from the choral sounds to a trap music baseline.
'This Is America' Actor Talks Donald Glover, Easter Eggs and Trayvon Martin's Dad
Brittany Spanos (Rolling Stone, 10/05/2018)
Musician-actor Calvin the Second was spending a weekend at Coachella when his agent gave him a call. A new music video was looking for a black guitarist, and the multi-instrumentalist who had appeared in films like Whiplash and shows like Nashville fit the bill.
Still, he was a bit surprised when the agent offered up a bit more details on the clip.
"They want to put a bag over your head and shoot you," he recalls off her description.
Childish Gambino: This is America uses music and dance to expose society’s dark underbelly
Daniel Cookney and Kirsty Fairclough (The Conversation, 10/05/2018)
Childish Gambino’s new music video for his song This is America was viewed almost 50m times in five days. It is a remarkable artistic achievement given that it utilises finely-tuned choreography to satirise the role of the black man’s supposedly “joyous” song and dance routine.
The release of the video was particularly timely. Encountering the Hiro Murai-directed promo brought some much-needed satisfaction – and sanity – to a week that had notably featured a Trump-endorsing Kanye West claiming slavery was “a choice”.
After already amassing over 49m YouTube views, This is America has demonstrated the potential for an artist like Donald Glover – aka Childish Gambino – to use popular culture to critically address ongoing and deeply-ingrained issues surrounding race.
Childish Gambino's "This Is America" Video Hits 50 Million Views in Days
Nerisha Penrose (The Hollywood Reporter, 09/05/2018)
There's a lot to unpack in Childish Gambino's (aka Donald Glover) powerful "This Is America" video, which has been the talk of the Twitterverse since he unleashed the new song and accompanying visual on Saturday night, shortly after he performed on NBC's Saturday Night Live.
In the days since its release, the "This Is America" video has amassed over 50 million views on YouTube, breaking all of Gambino's previous records on the video platform.
For starters, Gambino's new video garnered close to one million views in the first hour and soared to an estimated 12.9 million views in the first 24 hours, a rep from the platform confirmed to Billboard. What's more, the "This Is America" video has become one of this year's biggest music video debuts and was the most-watched video on YouTube from Sunday to Tuesday.