Childish Gambino has shared how “This Is America” was originally written to be a Drake diss track.
Donald Glover revealed this and more in a new in-depth interview with GQ. “[It] was a funny way of like doing [a Drake diss], but then I was like, ‘This s*** sounds kind of hard, though,'” he said.
“So I was like, ‘Let me play with it.’ So we just had that for a long time, I told Hiro [Murai, his regular collaborator] the idea, and he was like, ‘Oh, let’s do it.’”
The 2018 hit may have started as a diss but it eventually turned into an anthem about the Black Lives Matter movement. Glover featured a number of other rappers on the track, including Young Thug, Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd, BlocBoy JB, Quavo of Migos, and 21 Savage on backing vocals.
The track’s release coincided with Glover hosting Saturday Night Live. Glover remembers making this decision: “I was like, ‘How do you make people care about anything anymore? There’s just so much s***.’ Well, you have to have a moment in real time – which was [Saturday Night Live].”
He took the opportunity not only to promote his new track that was about to be released, but also call attention to the noticeable lack of diversity in the Star Wars franchise.
SNL gave Glover the chance to show the audience his acting skills as well as his rapping. It also gave him the “moment in real time” needed to make people care about his message.
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Later in his interview with GQ, Glover talked about how he actually auditioned to be a cast member for SNL. “I dodged so many bullets. Me being on SNL would’ve killed me,” he said, before adding “if I got on SNL, my career wouldn’t have happened. And thank God.”