Kim Kizyma
Graphic Designer + Creative Technologist

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SOTD: This is America

Atlanta rapper Childish Gambino just released a new song and video titled "This Is America" and it had the Internet shook...rightfully so. Peep the video below.

The video opens a dialogue about gun violence in America and how it is so frequent that we barely even stop to process it. We just continue living our lives as if it is nothing out of the ordinary, because quite frankly, it isn't.

[Intro: Choir]
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

[Bridge: Childish Gambino & Young Thug]
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)

[Chorus: Childish Gambino]
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

[Verse 1: Childish Gambino, Blocboy JB, Slim Jxmmi, Young Thug, & 21 Savage]
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)

[Refrain: Choir & Childish Gambino]
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

[Chorus: Childish Gambino, Slim Jxmmi, & Young Thug]
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)

[Verse 2: Childish Gambino, Quavo, Young Thug, & 21 Savage]
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 on Oaxaca (woah)
They gonna find you that blocka (blaow)

[Refrain: Choir, Childish Gambino, & Young Thug]
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

[Outro: Young Thug]
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

This song peaks as it's literal and such sharp contrast between the overly excited moments are juxtaposed with the mindless killing. It's a simple idea, but it is done well and becomes powerful.

The video also is quite reminiscent of the video Joyner Lucas' viral video, "I'm Not Racist."

The video also subtly explores many other related themes.

Terrorism as a growing threat: as the choir is singing and Gambino has a rifle, it is most likely alluding to the 2015 Charleston Church Massacre. "Here, the video potentially stresses that death by gun violence is not a one-off occurrence, more so when it comes to black Americans" (Highsnobiety).

The return of Jim Crow: Gambino's fluid movements visually mimic posters and drawings of Jim Crow.

Dancing: becomes a distraction to rioting in background after gun violence. "The video includes references to several popular dances both in the U.S. and across Africa...this could be read as how people happily adopt black culture but turn a blind eye to the violence that affects black people."

Biblical allusions: you probably noticed the white horse in the background of the video. In the Bible, Revelations 6:8..."And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and the name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." According to the scripture, the appearance of four horsemen signifies the oncoming apocalypse--with death represented by the final, white one.

The Sunken Place: the final scene shows Gambino being chased by white people, mimicking the notions of the movie Get Out. The "sunken place" refers to a marginalization of people who are aware of the violence that surrounds them, but are powerless to stop it.

Overall, I think this video is incredible and it's one that I think I will notice more and more with each time I watch it.

kk