4 Takeaways from Childish Gambino's New Video for
    • MONDAY, MAY 07, 2018

    • Posted by: Elissa Fertig

    Childish Gambino's new video for his track "This is America" is the first bit of new music we've heard since 2016's full-length LP, Awaken, My Love!. Filled to the brim with political imagery (both current and historic) the video lays the groundwork for an actual conversation about the state of Black America in the music industry (Kanye West, I'm talking to you). Set against near Dancehall beats, lush R&B harmonies, and Gambino's tight, clean rapping, this video looks almost nothing like the song sounds. Here are four takeaways from "This is America".


    1. The Guns Are Treated Better Than The People
    The first few moments of the video show Childish Gambino dancing and then shooting a black man with a bag over his head. The gun is taken away carefully by an attendant with a red cloth, while the corpse is dragged offstage by some people we can't see while Gambino dances wildly in front of the camera. Later something similar happens when Gambino shoots a gospel choir with a machine gun; an obvious nod to the Charleston church shooting. The gun is taken away in a similar manner. If that's not @ing the NRA, I don't know what is.

    2. The Dancing Means Something
    From the get-go, Childish Gambino starts dancing in a style that references a Jim Crow minstrel character, and veers into choreography that takes its roots back to traditional African dances. Plus, there's all kinds of sh*t going on in the background that you can barely make out. For more on some of this symbolism and imagery, there are plenty of impassioned Twitter threads about what all the different kinds of dancing means in this video, so hop on Google if you're curious.

    3. What You're Not Seeing
    There are plenty of other details on the difficulties of life in Black America that get obscured by Gambino's ridiculous grooves. But if you look carefully, there is a lot going on. For example, someone hurls them self off a balcony and a bunch of kids film the chaos of the riot going on in the background on their cell phones as Gambino sings, "watch me move / this a celly / that's a tool". What they don't show in the video is almost more intense than what they do.

    4. SZA makes an entrance
    The pop-R&B icon makes an appearance at the end of the video, sitting like the queen she is on a car while Gambino dances above her. Maybe there's a collab in the works? Or maybe she's just there to brighten up the screen. Either way, her easily-missed appearance is definitely significant somehow.
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