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Review: Childish Gambino – This is America

Matt Troher, A&E Editor

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Childish Gambino’s “This is America” is the most important song in the world right now.

Every music nerd like me is itching to review a song like “This is America”. In today’s pop-culture landscape that is so bogged down with who’s the loudest, whether that be Kanye’s twitter rants or Kardashian Instagram posts, it takes something special to stand out amongst the noise. What is it that makes “This is America” so special?

Is it the downright Shakespearean music video filled to the brim with visual rhetoric and conflicted morals? Is it the perfect blend of soul, R&B, and trap rap that Gambino presents on a golden plate? Is it the beat that makes you conflicted on whether or not you should dance, given the lyrics Gambino is stating?

As much as all of these apply to “This is America”, what makes it so important is the timing when Gambino decided to release it.

At a time where racial tension seems to be at a new peak every day, Gambino is able to contextualize and commentate in a mere four-minute video, even better so than many political commentators can in an hour.

At a time where critics complain that trap has run its course, Gambino is able to release a single that changes the game. This is the closest we’ve come to ‘post-trap’, for lack of a better term. The trademarks of trap are there: the rattling high-hats, the triplet delivery, and the repetition – but Gambino makes sure he doesn’t fall victim to the cliches of the genre.

Gambino is doing what the ever-so-loud Kanye West wishes he could do at this moment. Gambino is providing relevant, catchy, and memorable commentary through an infectious beat and hard-hitting lyrics.

Three albums deep, Gambino has improved on each of his studio projects. His first album “Camp” was messy and unfinished. “Because the Internet”, his second album, was slightly more focused but still had its flaws. 2016’s “Awaken my Love” catapulted Gambino into the mainstream music scene with the success of “Redbone”, and was his best album to date – despite some lackluster tracks.

With the release of “This is America” and his fourth album around the corner, Gambino is setting himself up for extreme success. If the album is anything as innovative as “America”, Gambino can have an all-time great on his hands.


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Review: Childish Gambino – This is America