In the words of Childish Gambino, "This is America," and the internet tried to catch him slipping. Yesterday (June 24), music fans across social media claimed that Gambino's "This Is America" sounded similar to a 2016 song, "American Pharaoh" by Jase Harley. Numerous people on Twitter and Instagram compared Glover's No. 1 single to Harley's ad-libs, flow, delivery, and the song's beat. In a since-deleted tweet, Fam Udeorji — Donald's manager, Atlanta music supervisor, and co-principal of Wolf + Rothstein — quickly took to Twitter to debunk the accusation.
"The Internet is a place of no consequences," Fam wrote. "I hate that Toronto Akademiks/every white blogger can say something as gospel and y'all take it. This song is 3 yrs old, and we have pro tools files to prove it. But fuck you and your moms, and your future fetuses. Stay blessed."
Once the controversy started to gain steam, Harley posted his take on the situation to Instagram stating he was "humbled to be recognized," but asking that fans didn't "dilute the message" that he and Gambino were trying to convey. In the comments, the New York rapper admitted that he "always felt my song inspired ["This Is America"] lol from the first time I heard it."
In a May interview on WNYC's "The Takeaway", Gambino's creative director, Ibra Ake, ironically discussed how they try to create their art in a vacuum.
"As creators who are kind of marginalized with our voice, we try to make stuff in a vacuum in a way where we’re not influenced by what was made before us, which usually — in the media specifically — comes from a white world and a white infrastructure or a system that is controlled by white people," Ake said. "So even with this video, we kind of reduced it to a feeling — a very black feeling, a very violent feeling, but also a very fun feeling."
This is America, and the conspiracy theories about the origins of Gambino's hit single are sure to continue.