Do You Hear The Similarities? Donald Glover Accused Of Plagiarizing “This Is America” From Lesser Known Artist
At Sunday’s BET Awards, host Jamie Foxx shined a light on Donald Glover’s hit “This is America.” Performed under Glover’s rap name Childish Gambino, both the song and video were released on May 5, and when it did, it was all the internet could talk about.
Many interpreted the song and video to be a sad state of the nation that includes rampant gun violence, police brutality, apathy toward dead black bodies and an uncanny ability to be distracted during it all.
Because of these perceived themes, Foxx took his hosting gig and threw all the rules out the window by asking Glover, to his surprise, to come on stage to do a little verse and dance from the certified platinum tune. Glover obliged, but being on that main stage not only shined the spotlight more on him, but it brought out a magnifying glass from the internet (which remains undefeated).
Over the weekend, a Reddit user compared “This is America” to “American Pharaoh,” a 2016 tune by a lesser known artist, Jase Harley. When you hear both songs, the similarities are stunning. From subject matter to cadence to beat drops, the user makes the case that “This is America” might be plagiarism.
When Harley got wind that the internet was making this accusation, he took to Instagram and posted a rather humble response.
“I feel extremely humbled to be recognized and labeled as one or the original inspirations for one of the most important pieces of music and visual art of our time. But PLEASE DON’T let this controversy dilute the message me and @childishgambino are trying to convey. We are speaking about injustices we’ve encountered and he’s helped to provide a platform for all our voices to be heard,” it reads.
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I feel extremely humbled to be recognized and labeled as one of the original inspirations for one of the most important pieces of music and visual art of our time. I appreciate all the love and support! But PLEASE DON’T let this controversy dilute the message me and @childishgambino are trying to convey. We are speaking about injustices we’ve encountered and he’s helped to provide a platform for all our voices to be heard. Let’s not discredit him for that! The focus should be on affecting change in our communities and building equality. This is bigger than me and him and bigger than music. Let’s not lose focus 🙏🏾 #noonewinswhenthefamilyfeuds #futurists
But Childish Gambino’s manager, Fam Rothstein, denied the plagiarism accusation. In a now-deleted tweet but was screen-grabbed by ABC.net, Rothstein claimed that “This is America” is actually older than Harley’s song and anyone that believes otherwise can kick rocks.
“The internet is a place of no consequences,” the tweet said. “I hate that Toronto Akademiks/every white blogger can say something as gospel and ya’ll take it. this song is three years old and we have pro tools files to prove it. but f-ck you and your moms, and your future fetuses. stay blessed.”
Glover has not yet responded.
So, what do you think? Is this plagiarism? Check out both songs below.
Renese spends her early mornings writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog. Follow Renese on Twitter: @reneseford