Donald Glover has opened up about the origins of his visceral Childish Gambino song “This Is America,” which apparently started off as a joke — and a Drake diss track. “I had the idea three years before,” he says in a video interview with GQ. “I told [director] Hiro [Murai] the idea, and he’s like, ‘I really want to do that.’ The idea for the song started as a joke. To be completely honest, ‘This is America’ — that was all we had was that line. It started as a Drake diss, to be honest, as like a funny way of doing it. But then I was like, this shit sounds kind of hard though. So I was like, let me play with it.”
Glover also talks about how he and Murai conceptualized the “This Is America” music video, which he calls “‘We Are The World,’ but for trap.” (The 2018 song features background vocals from Young Thug, Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd, BlocBoy JB, Quavo of Migos, and 21 Savage.) Initially, they were inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. “How do you make people care about anything anymore?” Glover muses about the song, which he debuted on SNL.”There’s just so much shit. You have to have a moment in real time.”
In other “This Is America” news, last month the copyright infringement lawsuit over Glover’s hit song was officially dismissed. According to Billboard, a judge ruled that “[a] cursory comparison with the challenged composition reveals that the content of the choruses is entirely different and not substantially similar.” He also said the lyrics of Kidd Wes, who filed the 2021 lawsuit against Glover, were a “short, simple, self-aggrandizing proclamation,” while “This Is America” discusses “what America means and how it is perceived.”
Watch Glover talk about “This Is America” below.