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On Saturday night, actor, writer, comedian, and musician Donald Glover was added to the small list of entertainers who doubled as both host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Performing as his alter ego Childish Gambino, Glover debuted two new songs, including “Saturday” and “This Is America.” While this would be a big enough feat for most artists, Glover capped off the successful hosting stint by dropping a shocking new video for “This Is America,” garnering praise from some of his most famous fans and earning the unofficial title for video of the year.
In “This Is America,” Glover yo-yo’s between happily dancing through a warehouse and committing acts of gun violence, killing a hooded man and taking out a choir of singers with a machine gun. The video, directed by Glover’s Atlanta director Hiro Murai, requires multiple viewings to take in all the scenes transpiring behind Glover and his group of dancers, with the symbolism about gun violence, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the importance placed on guns over the lives of innocent people in the U.S. all requiring unpacking.
Glovers stance at the beginning of the video is in response to famous Jim Crow caricatures, while the older cars on display at the end of the video are another reminder that not much has changed in America with regards to the country’s treatment of minorities.
Although she doesn’t perform on the track, SZA appears at the end of the video, which could signal a possible collaboration between the pair on Gambino’s upcoming album.
The music video has quickly gone viral since dropping early Sunday morning and for good reason. “This Is America” is being praised across the internet, with many of Gambino’s famous fans taking to social media to discuss the important and layered piece of art.
Actor Armie Hammer has kept the video on repeat.
Childish Gambino for the win! I’ve watched this no less than 4 times this morning. https://t.co/6fb7rvqcOu
— Armie Hammer (@armiehammer) May 6, 2018
Bruno Mars cites Gambino as his biggest inspirations right now.
Childish Gambino. From his show Atlanta to his music and new video. All around incredible. https://t.co/yooD3AHxir
— Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars) May 7, 2018
Actor and musician Awkwafina called “This Is America” an angel dropping from the sky.
Childish Gambino’s video dropped out the heavens like Nicolas Cage in City of Angels. So grateful for this powerful and thought-provoking video after such a yikes ass week in hip hop.
— AWKWAFINA (@awkwafina) May 7, 2018
Canadian pop star Lights finds inspiration in “This Is America.”
Watching people who are confident and innovative inspire me to wanna be more like that I’m lookin at you childish gambino
— Lights (@lights) May 6, 2018
Adele pivoted from her 30th birthday message to praise Childish Gambino.
Dirty 30! I’m not sure what I’m going to do for the next 30 years as I’ve been blessed beyond words in my life so far. Thank you to everyone for coming along for the ride the last 11 years with me. My family and friends for entertaining my super fandom of the Titanic movie. Last night was the best night of my life. Here’s a couple pics. I’m absolutely fucked, not sure I’ll make it out the house again! Ps Childish Gambino how the hell do you have time to offer us so much greatness on so many platforms. I adore you x
Danielle Brooks from Orange Is The New Black called the video ‘required viewing.’
Actor Olivia Wilde says she hopes to make something as good as “This Is America” and praises director Hiro Murai.
Common thanked Childish Gambino for his work.
Nicole Richie left instructions on how to view “This Is America.”
Rapper Nelly is already calling on MTV to make “This Is America” Video of the Year.