Childish Gambino blew us away with his revolutionary hit single, ‘This Is America,’ and its powerful music video. But as many punters have discovered in the weeks since its release, Gambino has woven a number of hidden lyrics and symbols into the song, which reveal themselves on multiple listens. To save you the time, we’ve compiled a list of the five freshest lyrics you probably missed in ‘This Is America.’
You were probably too caught up in the slick sound of the snare drum, or Gambino’s insane dance moves, to catch this one, but keen-eyed observers will note it came after the words ‘this is’ - hence, the name of the song! Got to wake up pretty early to catch that one, but huge props to you if you did.
2. ‘Don’t catch you’
Coming just before the famous lyric, ‘slippin’ up,’ this subtle phrase is likely a reference to 2002’s cinematic masterpiece, ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ Leonardo DiCaprio’s subtle portrayal of a charming young con artist bears remarkable similarity to the way Gambino subtly portrays the disgusting epidemic of gun violence in America in the clip. But in the sense that ‘Catch Me If You Can’ was a light movie with a positive ending, the use of ‘don’t catch you’ in this song indicates the dark state of the US political climate.
3. ‘This is’
Whilst this lyric might not bear the symbolic weight of others, it gives important context to number 1, ‘America.’ In isolation, Gambino simply singing ‘America’ would sound pretty weird - and it’s probably what you heard the first time you listened! But actually, he is singing ‘this is’ before ‘America,’ suggesting that the current state of things is, indeed, America. Remember, he is suggesting this is America, not this isn’t America. An important distinction that many have missed.
4. ‘We just’
Coming in a breathy, subtle whisper before the lyric ‘wanna party’ is this important piece of activist lyricism you probably missed. By expressing that he and others just wanna party, Gambino is making himself part of a collective group - an important element of the song, aligning with his contention that black bodies in the US have been collectively subject to oppression and violence for millennia. Without ‘we just,’ the listener is simply left with the question ‘wanna party?’ And whilst the answer is obviously yes, it doesn’t give the necessary insight that the full lyric ably does.
5. ‘This is America’
The most subtle of all, this one is barely heard throughout the track, and there is no indication otherwise that you might have heard it. Unfortunately, we’re not sure what it means. We’ll leave that one to the dorks who over-analyze, while we drink a beer and have fun! Go Gambino!