Childish Gambino’s video for “This Is America” has become an overnight, cultural phenomenon, sparking a national conversation in the process. Both the depth of Donald Glover’s message and the pure artistry of the video have been analyzed and unpacked all week. Regardless of some shocking and horrific imagery, we just keep returning to the video to click play. We’re obviously not alone. It’s currently been watched more than 65 million times on YouTube. The video had us thinking about our first encounter with Donald Glover back in 2011. I remember receiving a call on a Friday to film the session somewhere the following Monday. We were all fans of Glover’s comedic character Troy Barnes on Community, but, in all honesty, a little skeptical about filming Donald Glover the rapper. But I remember someone at the label assuring me this was serious. “This is not a comedy or parody act. He really is an artist”. I probably shouldn’t put that in quotes, because I’m sure that wasn’t the exact statement. But it was certainly the sentiment. We listened to his EP (and predecessor to his debut album Camp), unanimously decided we’d do it, and threw the whole shoot together in a matter of hours. It’s been one of our favorite sessions ever since…despite some questionable camera work. Since then we’ve obviously been following all things Gambino. And while there are some competing opinions over the significance of his 2016 release, Awaken, My Love! (though we can all agree…”Redbone” is a jam) in the office, we – like the rest of America, it seems – can’t stop watching “This Is America”. This is a new Childish Gambino. Hopefully he’ll stick around for awhile.
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