Although Donald Glover is being coy about the message behind Childish Gambino‘s latest release, “This Is America,” the multi-talented artist’s creative director has offered some insight into the song and video.
Speaking to Tanzina Vega, host of WNYC’s “The Takeaway,” Ibra Ake spoke about “This Is America” as well as its controversial music video. In regards to the song, Ake revealed that the idea to include a handful of rappers on the track was inspired by the 1985 song “We Are The World,” which featured contributions from Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Lionel Richie, and other popular artists.
“The idea was just a ‘We Are The World’ song, I guess,” Ake said. “You know, there’s a bunch of rappers featured, but he just kind of wanted to make a ‘We Are The World’ song with rappers. And really not them rapping, just their ad-libs. Just kind of reducing the features to jazz.”
The creative director then turned his focus to the video, saying that the goal of it was to normalize blackness.
“It’s, like, this is how we would like to dance, but we have to be aware of the danger and the politics of how we’re perceived and the implications of the history of how we were treated,” Ake said. “There’s all this math you’re constantly doing expressing yourself […] We’re trying to not have to explain ourselves to others and just exist, and not censor what our existence looks like as people.”
“We reduced it to a feeling ― a very black feeling, a very violent feeling, but also a very fun feeling. If you’re at the club and there’s a shooting outside, you still have to go get food afterwards and you have to compartmentalize that. Being marginalized is compartmentalizing trauma to exist in the world. I cant stop being black because of trauma and discrimination. I still have to live life and forge on.”
Ake then revealed that “This Is America” has been around for awhile, referring to it as “one of the older songs.”
“He kind of just has things in his head and when it’s album time, it’s kind of like, ‘Okay, finish baking the cake you started.’ So we’ve kind of heard this for a while,” he said.
Ake also confirmed that this will be Glover’s last album. Listen to the interview below.