In a recent interview with GQ, Donald Glover revealed that his song “This Is America” was originally supposed to be a diss record aimed at Drake.
“I had the idea three years before. 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,” Glover said in a video accompanying the interview. “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 s-t sounds kind of hard though. So I was like, let me play with it.”
The Hiro Murai-directed video and the lyrics of the emotionally-charged single, which Glover released under his Childish Gambino moniker, reflect on social and racial injustice, police brutality, as well as the wider issues of mass shootings and gun violence happening across the U.S.
“We studied [Michael Jackson’s] ‘Thriller’ for a long time,” Glover said. “I was like, how do you make people care anything anymore? There’s just so much shit. Well, you have to have a moment in real-time, which was SNL.”
In addition to studying “Thriller,” Glover said he familiarized himself with Robbie Williams‘s work to ensure he wasn’t doing the same moves. “You have to do a lot of things the first time, but ‘Thriller’ was a big, important part.”
(Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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