Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” is a massive hit, and it looks like the story behind the record is one that we’d never guess.
Released in 2018, “This Is America” took home not one, not two, not three, but four Grammy awards — the biggest being Song of the Year at the 61st Grammys. The record also won Record of the Year, Best Music Video, and Best Rap/Sung Performance.
The 39-year-old recently sat down with GQ for their cover story, revealing the origin behind “This Is America.” In fact, he had the idea for the song and was perfecting it for three years before it was released to the public.
Gambino explains, “I had the idea three years before. I told [director] Hiro [Murai] the idea, and he’s like, ‘I really want to do that.’… The idea for the song started as a joke. To be completely honest, ‘This is America’—that was all we had was that line. It started as a Drake diss, to be honest, as a funny way of doing it. But then I was like, this shit sounds kind of hard though. So I was like, let me play with it.”
Apparently, one of the main lyrics was originally supposed to take a jab at Drake’s stomping grounds in Canada. “[It] was a funny way of like doing [a Drake diss],” Gambino stated. “ But then I was like, ‘This shit sounds kind of hard, though.’ So I was like, ‘Let me play with it.’ So we just had that for a long time, I told Hiro the idea, and he was like, ‘Oh, let’s do it.’”
Gambino goes on to explain how his dance movies in the “This Is America” visual were directly inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” visual. Gambino even admitted to studying the clip for a long time.