In the Era of Yeezus, Donald Glover is showing himself to be the Many Faced God of Black Excellence.
Listen man, I honestly can’t tell you how many times I have watched “This is America” at this point since it came out. I can tell you it has been more times than it should be reasonably healthy to do, and I don’t see a forseeable future when I won’t watch it ooooohhh...at least 5x a day. As I sit down with writing this Book of Gambino Chapter 1 I am watching it on repeat as we speak. So if ya’ll see any spelling errors blame it on my eyes trying to do two things at once. Looking like I’m related to Forest Whitaker right now fam, it’s that serious. If this video is the sunken place, just lemme go, and tell my momma I loved her cause I don’t want to get out. I’ve been glued to it from the moment the camera pans on him from the back with that fro looking Kunta Kente Black Power righteous, that grown man beard with the Marvin Gay taco meat no shirt look. Yo, and when he all of sudden starts that sway we ALLLLL know, tell me you didn’t start the roll as soon as you saw him do it. I’ll wait...EXACTLY.
Donald bringing that positive dad body vibes. Know your worth kings.
Then, just when you think this is about to be the summer dance anthem video of 2018, BLAM! Ya boy pulled out the piece, hit the nastiest nuevo black pose ever (shout out to Black Twitter noticing that it is in reference to Jim Crow caricatures from the “Make America Great Again”-headass days.) and proceeded to implicitly, explicitly, show us what America is and has always been. Death, destruction, and distraction. In 4 minutes and 4 seconds which you will NEED ALL OF to get your life right , “This is America” shows us not just a history of America, but the unique history of Blacks in America and how we deal , how we self sabotage at times, and how we are used in this country most of us call home. Did you peep all the dance moves being the most popular viral video dances over the last few years? Of course. Or how every time blatant violence was done (against black people I might add) with a gun, the gun was treated with reverence by a school age child (MESSAGE)who takes it away, while the dead black body wasn’t even given a second thought? Most likely. And if you think I'm reaching you clearly ain’t watching this newest season of Atlanta were Donald Glover is doing a whole class on Twin Peaks like symbolism for the black culture. I could just go on and on about the symbolism in this video and the layers that have to be peeled back to reach that delicious black magic inside.
The sheer genius of the background action in the narrative of this video being more important than what is at the forefront makes the depth of the video so visceral. From the rioting going on, people dying all over the damn place, kids making it rain like that one time in KOD we won’t talk about right nah, a pale horse of death being followed by a police car, I mean... the juxtaposition between background and foreground is amazing. Even the fact every now and then Childish Gambino just drops the happy face and dancing and has this look of depression and sighs before getting back at it again is heavy with that symbolism sauce. Hell even the lyrics, while repetitive does not mean dumbed down. The lyrics combined with the dancing combined with the action in the background, creates a full on tapestry of coded language that needs to be seen as a whole to even decipher. This song is made with the video as a visual in mind. Gambino is all about his music having a visual feel to it, almost like theater. If you don’t believe me go look at any video of his Because of the Internet Tour, it is basically a musical, very much similar to this. Or even watch the SNL performances he did this weekend and see the same themes there as well.
This ain’t Kanye riding on a motorcycle and posing wax models of famous people naked faux deep. This is legit double consciousness, peek behind the veil, “This is (WHITE) America” deep. This is black man get your money, because your life ain’t worth it to them deep. Black folks keep smiling,dancing, and drugging so we don’t cry from our pain deep. Don’t get to serious of our plight, or we may be running figuratively and literally for our lives deep. I wish Donald dropped this specifically to counteract the foolishness that is Kanye West, cuz lordy lordy we needed some Django after Uncle Ruckus West showed his entire ass, but even without Kanye in the picture this video is needed. I need classes on it, I need news segments breaking it down. I need think pieces and movements created with the energy that this video has black twitter feeling. I need all the dance moves choreography passed to all the HBCU step teams, and marching bands (Really the Marching 100) to perform this during homecoming so all the voices and bodies moving and singing as one wakes up the ancestral spirits in jubilation. And most importantly...I need to run it back one more time.