NEW YORK – A graphic music video by Childish Gambino has racked up more than 100 million views in just over a week on YouTube with its powerful takes on gun violence and racism.
“This Is America” — by actor and recording artist Donald Glover’s edgy alter ego — is a raw take on racism, gun violence and consumer society hit the nine-figure-mark in a week, just behind of global hits such as Adele’s “Hello” (four days) and “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus (in six days).
The four-minute video begins with a shirtless Glover dancing to soothing rhythms in an empty warehouse and singing “We just wanna party” and “We just want the money.”
Glover suddenly pulls out a handgun from the back of his pants and executes a hooded man sitting in a chair.
A heavier, more foreboding beat drops, and Glover raps “This is America — don’t catch you slipping up.”
“Yeah, this is America,” he says. “Guns in my area.”
Later in the video, Glover guns down an all-black church choir in a sequence some commentators have interpreted as a reference to the 2015 murders of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina.
At several points, children in school uniforms join Glover in his hypnotic dance as violence occurs in the background.
The video, directed by Hiro Murai, ends with a terror-stricken Glover fleeing as from a lynch mob.
One of the clips producers, Ibra Ake, told NPR: “there’s a communality there and people can relate to a lot of that stuff. I don’t think we are as cerebral or as calculated as people think. Our goal is to normalize blackness.”
Glover’s video follows an appearance over the weekend on the hit comedy show “Saturday Night Live.”
The 34-year-old actor and musician is to appear as Lando Calrissian in “Solo” A Star Wars Story” being released on May 25.