Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” has been one of the biggest music stories of the year. Premiered during Donald Glover’s gig as host and musical guest on SNL, the song’s eye-popping music video became a viral sensation, propelling “This Is America” to a #1 debut. In addition to being the centerpiece of a humongous year for Glover — who also costarred in Solo: A Star Wars Story and unveiled a second masterful season of his TV series Atlanta — “This Is America” was the subject of a major Jamie Foxx lovefest at the BET Awards last night. Foxx isn’t the only celebrity to shower “This Is America” with praise; Trent Reznor, for instance, is a huge fan. So it would be an especially big deal if Glover ripped off the song from a lesser known artist.
Over the weekend, speculation to that effect gained momentum online. A thread at Reddit’s hiphopheads forum noted the similarity between “This Is America” and a 2016 track called “American Pharaoh” by Jase Harley. The hiphopheads poster noted, “The instrumental is quite similar and the subject matter, inflection, and flow is uncannily similar.” Harley himself noticed the resemblance. Some of his recent comments on Instagram: “lol word a shout out would be cool ♂️ all good tho.. he’s a great artist, dope I could’ve had some influence on the record”; “”I always felt my song inspired it lol from the first time I heard it”; “yeaaa lol it’s cool tho.. glad they liked my song. It’s all love.”
Now Glover’s manager Fam Rothstein has responded to the allegations. In a since-deleted tweet, Rothstein claims “This Is America” is three years old and the Gambino camp has the audio files to prove it. Replying to a tweet that reads, “Jamie Foxx talking about This Is America and we found out Donald Glover stole the song today qjajaldmaksmaksm,” Rothstein wrote, “the Internet is a place of no consequences. 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.”
Compare the two songs for yourself:
We’ve reached out to a representative of Childish Gambino for comment. In the meantime, here’s footage of Foxx’s vociferous praise for “This Is America” last night.
— #BETAwards (@BETAwards) June 25, 2018