Childish Gambino’s New Music Video Sends A Strong Message & Twitter Is Listening

by Collette Reitz

While he was hosting Saturday Night Live on May 5, Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino), to everyone's surprise, also released a music video for his new song called "This Is America." From its title, you might expect the song to have some commentary abut what's currently going on in the country. Well, it has that — and a whole lot more. Childish Gambino's "This Is America" has a strong message, and people are listening to what he has to say about the state of the nation.

Glover was in the middle of hosting SNL on May 5 when his official Twitter account shared the link to the new video. According to Twitter, this is Childish Gambino's first new music since 2016. With that, fans were very excited to see what was in store for them with "This Is America" — and Childish Gambino definitely delivered. While the music is catchy, the lyrics and video send a message about important issues in America, especially the prevalence of gun violence.

The music video starts with a black man playing guitar in large warehouse set to the music of choir joyfully singing. Childish Gambino then enters the warehouse dancing to the lyrics that include:

We just wanna party
Party just for you
We just want the money
Money just for you
I don't wanna party
Party just for me
Girl, you got me dancin' (yeah, girl, you got me dancin')
Dance and shake the frame

Childish Gambino then comes across the man who opened the video playing guitar and shoots the the man (whose head is now covered in a hood) in the head, and it leads to an abrupt change in the music. The beat turns more serious, and Childish Gambino sings the chorus:

This is America
Don’t catch you slippin’ up
Don’t catch you slippin’ up
Look what I’m whippin’ up

Online, people are pointing to plenty of themes in the music video, focusing mostly on gun violence, police brutality, and what it's like to live as a black person in today's America. Throughout the video, there are plenty of uncomfortable juxtapositions between images of gleeful life moments (when an all-black choir is singing in the warehouse) and horrific violence (when Childish Gambino shoots the choir with what looks like a rifle).

The first verse of the song addresses some of these issues:

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

Throughout most of the video, Childish Gambino is dancing and singing while distressing scenes play out around him (such as the images of burning cars and people chaotically running around). Many viewers online think the "This Is America" video sends a strong message about the way Americans can get caught up with distractions rather than paying attention to the real issues in the country.

The end of the video transitions from an upbeat refrain to a chilling end. Prior to the end of the song and video, a choir sings:

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

The music then abruptly stops and turns to a much darker tone as Chilidish Gambino seemingly drops any lighthearted pretense and runs out of the warehouse as if he's running for his life. The lyrics in the outro during this scene are a quick flip from the previous refrain:

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
That probably ain't life for a dog
For a big dog

Childish Gambino's "This Is America" video addresses the current climate in the country, and his aim seems to be to wake people up to what is happening around them instead of becoming distracted by the noise.

"This Is America" wasn't the only new music from Childish Gambino on Saturday. As the host and musical guest on SNL, he performed another new song called "Saturday." From his live performance on the show, it seems like "Saturday" has a lighter vibe to it. The scene on-stage included people hanging out and playing dominoes.

Donald Glover also went on to make viewers laugh in plenty of sketches during the show. While Glover was expertly executing his SNL host duties, he also struck a more serious tone with "This Is America," and it seems as though people are listening to what he has to say.