It was quite the weekend for Stone Mountain native Donald Glover and his musical alter ego, Childish Gambino.
The “Atlanta” actor had his “Saturday Night Live” debut as host this weekend with a star-studded cast featuring Ben Stiller, Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Fallon, Scarlett Johansson and even Stormy Daniels.
The Grammy-winning artist also played musical guest and premiered two new songs on SNL: “Saturday” and “This is America.”
On Sunday, Gambino’s music video for “This is America,” which powerfully addresses the current debate over gun control, went viral.
In the video, shot in a warehouse and directed by “Atlanta” director Hiro Murai, audiences are likely to be drawn to a shirtless Gambino dancing at the center of the screen.
Some have drawn parallels between his posture and movements and a popular Jim Crow caricature poster from an era that legally enforced racial segregation in the South.
But the imagery behind Gambino’s dancing silhouette also encompasses a variety of controversial topics in today’s America: race relations, terrorism, police brutality, media, materialism, gun violence and more.
As Gambino breaks out in recognizable viral dance moves, riots break out behind him, a reflection of America’s ability to adopt black culture without addressing how violence disproportionately affects black people.
In another scene, as Gambino raps about getting “hunnid bands, hunnid bands, hunnid bands,” a pale white horse followed by a cop car make their way into the frame. This is a nod to a biblical verse from Revelations 6:8, which reads, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and the name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” The verse signifies the oncoming apocalypse.
Gambino consistently brings out firearms to address gun violence in acts of terrorism. In one scene, a gospel choir is executed after singing, “Grandma told me/Get your money black man.”
There’s a lot more to unpack in the video and track, which features appearances from rappers Young Thug, Quavo, Blocboy JB, Slim Jxmmi and 21 Savage. SZA makes a cameo, too.
Both “This is America” and “Saturday” are expected on the setlist for his upcoming fall tour as Childish Gambino. He kicks off the month-long tour in Atlanta on Sept. 6.
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