Donald Glover Releases A Powerful Video About America & It’s Nothing Beautiful
The same weekend he hosted and was the musical guest for SNL, Donald Glover made a critical addition to his music catalog. Following up critically-acclaimed 2016 album “Awaken, My Love,” Childish Gambino’s first solo music since then arrives in the form of a powerful and deeply symbolic visual.
“This Is America” may be the most memorable music video Donald Glover has ever released. Musically, it blends the rapping, singing, and production talents of the 34-year-old artist with his largest audience to date. Frequent and critically lauded Atlanta director Hiro Murai calls the shots on this production. For a song that deals with race, capitalism, the attitudes of so many Rap songs of the day, the vid touches on all that and more.
Childish Gambino delivers his song shirtless. Meanwhile, the background action tells a big part of the story. In the first minute, Gambino kills a veiled hostage, executioner style with a pistol. The words “This is America” begin the verse of the song, as Glover looks directly into the camera to make his point bluntly real.
Glover’s face locks to the camera with every muscle of his body seemingly choreographed for effect. Children in school uniforms play behind the MC/singer, joining him for some of the synchronized dance sequences. The lyrics are also in sync with the MC’s expressions, as Glover raps using slang heard in chart-topping songs of his younger peers, in addition to referencing the perils of police. The mood on his face and body are carefree, despite the ensuing carnage.
From one room in the warehouse to another, Glover leaves the school kids to join a Gospel Choir. They sing “get your money,” and the moment their lyrics specify “Black man,” Glover catches an AR-15, and shoots and kills the entire choir in seconds. As the last singer falls, Donald looks to the camera and begins his second verse with “This is America.” He proceeds with the rap, returning to school children in the other part of the warehouse. To get there, he goes the opposite direction from police officers in riot gear and people fleeing. After another joyous dance sequence, Glover makes the gesture of holding a gun. At an instant, he is abandoned.
After the MC/singer lights a joint, the music kicks back in. Glover dances atop a car as the guitar player from the opening of the video returns. SZA also makes a cameo. After a pullback, a sequence closes with Glover running for his life, ahead of a mob of people.
Donald Glover has previously stated that his next album would be his last. After the first video, he surely is not leaving the stage without making a statement.