“This is America” by Childish Gambino

“This is America” by Childish Gambino

Summary of “This is America song”; this song was released on May 5th, 2018 by Childish Gambino. The song was written by Jeffery Lamar Williams, Ludwig Goransson and Donald Glover. Gambino was hosting the “Saturday Night Live” episode in this specific day that he released the song. The musical features several American rappers such as; 21 Savage, Quavo, Blocboy, Slim Jxmm, and Young Thug. The message portrayed in the song covers the broader issue of gun violence in the United States alongside discrimination and racism against black Americans. The director of the video was Hiro Murai, an American filmmaker who has collaborated with Gambino in his many songs. In the song video, there is a gospel-style choir being dispersed by the brutal killer. The song has been built in a sharp contrast between menacing trap cadences, syncretic melodies and jolly. It touches the police brutality issue in the country.

Stylistic Elements, Thematic Feelings, and the Overall Feeling of the Song

According to my views, the song is excellent and has a lot of literal value in it. The song lyrics are fascinating due to the specific ambiguity of meaning that they portray. At the beginning of the song there is a choir that sings in the background “Go, go, away” (Gambino, 1-2). This is an indicative tendency of society to ignore social issues and move on with their daily chores. Meaning that they have no problem with anything unless they are provoked. This is echoed by the thematic feelings whereby the singer said that all they want is to party and spends their money. (Gambino, 9-12). This means the blacks Americans, who want the benefits of being economically stable, but they can’t get it because some individuals block this stability; these individuals are focused on gaining the material needs.

One of the stylistic elements that the song uses is that of symbolism. The singer in the lyrics sings o how the police and shooting people and in America guns are everywhere because that’s how the culture looks like (Gambino, 35-40). In this case, Gambino stresses on the reason why it is hard for people to live in the United States because the police kill the people in the country for no good reason. Gambino is representing the blacks in the video talks as if he has a gun. You should note that there are no cultural factors, racial or social economic factors accounted in this line. In the lyrics, Gambino stresses the need for carrying a gun, not because he is a criminal, but due to the environmental pressures, he feels around him.

Aspects of flashback are used in the lyrics where the singer sang of how his grandmother called him a black man and asked him to take his money. (Gambino, 52-53). This is to mean that the issue of racial attitudes is a generational message to all the black people. Although the lyrics are undoubtedly strong, they have been echoed by the video images. There is a clash of images in the video. We can see Gambino being accompanied by some school kids who dance with him.  As they are dancing a conflict escalates, and they stop the dance. In the video background, conflicts seem to arise from all corners. This shows the challenges facing the people in American society.


In conclusion, I feel that “This is America” by Childish Gambino is a valuable song in American society today. Gambino used inspirations from films and incorporated the general mood of the community in the vocals and the accompanying images. The problem of discrimination that he addresses cannot be solved in a short time, but awareness is necessary. This song can help society to improve society and start communicating about such issues.


Cuddon, John Anthony. A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory. John Wiley & Sons,           2012.

Gambino, Childish. “Childish Gambino – This Is America (Official Video).” YouTube, 2018,   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYOjWnS4cMY.