When Childish Gambino released ‘This Is America’ in 2018, he unveiled not only one of the best songs of that year but also one of the most visceral music videos in recent memory.
Five years later, First Nations dance company Marrugeku has made an Australian version, as per The Guardian.
Marrugeku’s creation is a fierce portrayal of the country’s continuing mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, refugees and migrants.
Led by Noongar rapper Beni Bjah, ‘This Is Australia’ opens with the following encapsulating lyrics: “We just want a barbie / Crack a can or two / Put upon your thongs / Aussie day is due / Oh, lest we forget / The footy’s on tonight / Can’t you just get over it / You know she’ll be right”.
Donald Glover’s major refrain is just as powerful in Marrugeku’s version: “This is Australia / Looking how I’m killing ya / Locking your children up / Fillin’ my prisons up”.
“It’s is a different process to writing an original song, to having a blank canvas,” Bjah explained to The Guardian. “But having Childish Gambino’s version to go off actually helped – This Is America had already inspired me so much, all these ideas just popped in my head. We could have probably written three or four songs.”
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As reported by the publication, Marrugeku’s co-directors, Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain, originally had the idea to make an Australian version many years ago while they were working on a piece about First Nations incarceration rates.
That would eventually turn into their latest show, Jurrunga Ngan-ga (Straight Talk), which you can read more about here. Jurrunga Ngan-ga (Straight Talk) will be performed at the upcoming Adelaide Festival in March.