Childish Gambino’s New Video Made Me Cry

If you haven’t seen it. Here it is, in all it’s wonderful beautiful glory

Now, why did I cry? Why did the video make me cry?

Well for one, it’s named “This is America”.  This video is full of truths about our society as a whole, and as I sat there watching it for what felt like the millionth time, I started to shed tears, because the meaning continued to weigh heavy on my heart.

The main point in this video is basically showing how distracted or little we tend to care about what’s going on in society.  As we see Gambino dancing with these school kids, as if nothing is going on.  From the opening scene we hear a chant, basically describing that we just want to have fun and that we just want to have a good life.  Starting off the song with an up-beat, African influenced chant “We just wanna party, Party just for you, We just want the money, Money just for you…” and from there things get grim when Gambino pulls out a gun and shoots a man with his head covered…and utters the words:

“This is America, Don’t catch you slippin up…”

Like…WHAT?!?!?

And the scene afterwards, which was noted by many outlets online, showed Glover handing off the gun to someone else, who had a red scarf of some sort, taking the gun off screen ever so carefully.  And what does he do after all of this commotion? Starts to dance as if nothing happened.  It’s a mirror on how society is taken aback by the sheer horrendous nature of America, but will then turn their eyes to something else as if the event that just happened never occurred.

The dancing in the video is a distraction. The lyrics, while basic in delivery, tells a simple story of our country.  “Police is trippin”, “I got a strap, I gotta carry em”, etc.  but the song alone does not make this the epic experience you should be hearing. The video is what you should pay attention to.

Gambino even goes to murdering a church choir, symbolizing the Charleston shooter from a few years back, and again the gun, which looked like and Assault Rifle, was taken away with care, which Glover, in turn, decides to start dancing again.  Symbolizing the initial shock of a tragic incident, but how we are quick to move along and forget about things again.

And while Gambino is dancing around with his crew, the background is just full of chaos.  The world around us in burning, but we’re focusing on the wrong things. And while all of these things are going on, we’re dancing, rather the Hip Hop community is dancing, and “getting their money”.  That’s what it’s all about.  As a black male in America, the chaos in the background is what we deal with on a normal basis, but society is being blinded. These things continue to happen, and people are out here just “getting their money” but not out here striving to make a change.  Obviously this is just my opinion and how I view it, but as the chaos goes on in the background, we’re just out here doing our dance. Whether that dance be “dancing for the man to ‘get that money'” and not challenge the status quo, or the dancing around people do to avoid the hard conversations.  However, there is a point where  this video screams how much America loves our art, but not our lives.  The outro goes like this:

“You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain’t life to a dog
For a big dog”

If this doesn’t scream “we’re just loved for our entertainment” I don’t know what is.  They don’t love us, they just love our culture.

This is America, where people want to believe it or not.  And this is why I cried.  Because while we are enjoying our lives, there will always be a next time, and a time after that, unless something is done about it.  Being a black man in America only amplifies the hurt, due to injustices that we have to worry about on a daily basis when it comes to police brutality and racism.  And that reality just breaks my heart…

Donald Glover, you are a genius and most of America doesn’t deserve you.

“Filthy” is exactly that…

FUNK is BACK!

Childish Gambino started it, then Bruno Mars picked it up and did it justice, and now Justin Timberlake is riding the wave with them!

Upon first listen of Justin Timberlake’s new track “Filthy” I wasn’t really feeling it.  I felt disappointed. It was the first thing I woke up to. Like a child on Christmas morning, I was expecting the greatest gift, but got left with Socks and tshirts.

But then I watched the video.

Justin Timberlake, looking like Steve Jobs, walks out to a round of applause to his “fans” per se, to show off his newest accomplishment.  And to nobody’s surprise, the crowd is eating it up.  They love his new dancing robot machine.  A proud JT is standing on the sidelines watching his newest invention dance around and mirror Michael Jackson’s swag (we’ll get to this a little later) and then once he’s done showing off his robot, *POOF*, he disappears.

Now, again, I’m not a journalist.  I’m hardly an intellectual.  But there are some metaphors in the video that made me like the song a little bit more as a whole.  I still wasn’t a fan of it mostly, and the reason why was just that it was kind of like SexyBack when it first came out.  Just a Pop beat with repetitive lyrics.  SexyBack wasn’t really supposed to be a “work of art”. It was there to serve a purpose of just being a banger, get everybody moving, and it eventually made it to that point.

But the video, long story short I think, represents how society is so zombified by tech in this world that we’re just ready for the “Next Big Thing” all the time.  And we’re so blind to maybe how simple this “big thing” is.  And JT, his character rather, is on the sidelines just eating it up.  He has his next wave of fans for the next year that will just buy anything.  Then at the end of the video, he disappears.  Where to? Nobody knows, but something tells me he’s put into the woods, to learn his “roots”.  Or whatever. Who knows…

This train of thought allowed me to appreciate the song a little better as a whole, accompanied with the video.  But then it was time to get my headphones and dissect the instrumentals, and MY GAWD, Timbo, Danja, and JT killed the instrumentals on this track.

Now this…this was the real “Filthy” part of this song.  From the intro, the song starts out bold, like you knew it was about to be high energy.  It had this whole Rock “Now coming to the stage” vibe, then he instantly changes it to these calm, trancey sounding synth, and mysterious 808 pattern. It was almost like a disappointment of sorts.  Like, all of this fanfare and lights and sound, and you show up with THIS? But a lot of times, we’re looking for the excitement when the genius of the track is right under your nose.  If you listen to it closely, you’ll be nodding your head in no time.  8 bars after the true beat starts this NASTY ass Bass guitar comes in and just freaks it. Then you get the lead guitar putting a little country twang in there to give a little foreshadowing vibe of the “woods” part of this project.  The animal adlibs along the way helps out to identify this in the track as well.  And once you get every part of the song rolling, it’s a embodiment of some old funk, soul, country sounding pop. I also noticed a little Michael Jackson vibe in his tone as well.  This along with the dance moves of the robot in the video, definitely lets you know that he at least slightly channeled MJ on this track.

Overall, I think it’s a sick track.  The socks and tshirts that I hated so much when I first unwrapped my present on Christmas morning ended up being the best thing I could ask for. Justin never disappoints me so yeah, I’m biased.  However, the weakest part of this song is the beat change-up near the end; It isn’t one of my favorites, but once they bring that “Filthy” Bass solo back into play before the outro I’m back into the trance.

I can’t wait to hear the rest of this album!

 

Edit: Totally forgot that Donald Glover is a part of the Funk Resurgence in Hip Hop

To assume will only make an ass out of yourself, and leave me laughing at you.

In response to “Justin Timberlake is rebranding himself as a white Man” From The Outline. An article about upcoming album “Man of the Woods” by Justin Timberlake.  

Dear Ann-Derrick,

This is satire, right? It has to be. I hope it is.

But just in case it isn’t…

I’m not a journalist, and I don’t try to be.  I’m just a casual blogger that has a lot to say and I read your post this week, only because I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan.  So yeah I may be a little biased, but I’m not blind.

Or maybe I am…However…

Something tells me that you’re probably not a fan of Justin Timberlake.  Something tells me that you have no earthly idea of how he’s carried himself through the entertainment and music industry for the last 23 years he’s been doing this thing.  We’ll just focus on the last 13 or so though, since his solo career is what you seem to have a problem with.

“Justin Timberlake is rebranding as a white man”. 

???

When was Justin Timberlake ever not white?  Ok Ok, I know, too literal, right?  So let’s look at it from a cultural standpoint.  From the start of your article, you visualize the settings from which Justin’s album teaser is set from (You did a good ass job with that, by the way).  And for some strange reason, I don’t have any idea why, you immediately think “Damn this is some white people shit”.  Just because he’s in some wilderness setting.

“White colonialist fantasies aside, there’s something very familiar about this pivot in Timberlake’s style.” 

These are your words.  Mind you, the album, NOR the single has even dropped at this point when you posted your article, so how is this pivot familiar? What pivot? What are you basing your opinion on? Additionally, how is this quote even related to his race? Oh, the visuals? Because this is some “white people shit”?  White people love the outdoors and wilderness.  But here’s a news flash.  Probably not many, but black people tend to love this as well, but that’s beside the point.  You’re assuming here that Timberlake’s visual association of wildlife to be sort of a “celebration” of his whiteness, and we all know what assuming things get you.

Authenticity is quite marketable now, and for white pop stars that means shifting away from the hip-hop and R&B-influenced sounds that made them famous, and toward the sounds of Southern and country rock. For Timberlake, the pivot should be sonically natural: Originally hailing from Tennessee, Timberlake has never been shy about celebrating his Southern origins. And considering Pharrell and Timbaland are both producers on the album, Man of the Woods is likely to retain some familiar influences.

So why are you even typing this article right now?

But with his insistence in the video that this album will be his most personal yet, Timberlake is indulging in the inexplicably popular fallacy that music with heavy country influences is somehow more profound or emotionally acute than music that is electronic, lyrics that are rapped, or songs that inspire listeners to shake their asses.

Have you heard the track yet? Because all of this assumption is just really causing a problem for me.

Not to straight up copy and paste your whole article here, but you are reaching SO MUCH.  I feel that you are reading too much into this.  Justin Timberlake has essentially grown over the years as an artist.  From a young teen heartthrob (Justified), to the sexy young adult (FutureSex/LoveSounds), to the experienced sexy adult (The 20/20 Experience) to full out husband and family man (Man of the Wild). He’s calling this his most profound and personal because this album is reflecting his personal life.  If writing about your family isn’t considered profound just on it’s own without including race then I’m not sure if you have a full grasp of the word.  How in the hell do you get “Justin is rebranding as a white man” out of this, is beyond me.

Timberlake has a long history with hip-hop and R&B, genres invented and dominated by black people(…)His first single as a solo artist featured legendary hip-hop duo Clipse and was co-written by The Neptunes.

Justin Timberlake has worked with Timbaland and The Neptunes for the vast majority of his solo career.  If anyone is to blame for him appropriating black culture, they share the blame.

Now that that is out of the way, Justin Timberlake’s first single “Like I Love You” with Clipse was a Pop track with a Rap feature. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that track on a single Hip Hop station growing up.  To add to that, Justified was solely a Pop album with hints of hip hop flare due to Timbaland and The Neptunes.  With the exception of “Cry Me a River”, Timberlake’s songs were rotated on Pop stations.

It wasn’t until FutureSex/LoveSounds when Justin got more play on Urban stations and even then only half of the album (if that) consisted of a straight up Urban tone. The rest of it was Pop.  Tell me the last time you heard “SexyBack” on a Hip Hop radio station? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

With the 20/20 Experience, Justin ventured into Pop Soul, which had his most Urban influence for an album.  But it wasn’t that he was straight up jacking the hip hop style, he involved Pop into something different. Into something great, and I implore you to go back and listen to it.

Again I don’t think that you’ve really listened to Justin’s music.  Which I guess you don’t really have to, to come up with this crazy notion of an article you’ve written here.  Also, I feel that people of color don’t really appreciate Justin’s music other than his singles that play on urban hip hop stations.  Justin has never branded himself as black.  People just tend to have this mindset that he’s appropriating the culture and I feel that that’s where you get this notion about him branding himself as a black person.  And you know what, it’s fine to feel that he’s appropriating the culture, because to an extent, he is, but I feel that he’s appropriating by association, and who’s to blame for that?

Maybe that’s a conversation for another day…

 

Edit:  After speaking with a few friends on this topic, I may have missed the ultimate point of the original article.  However, I do feel that the original author is jumping the gun prematurely at the fact that the music has not been released. So who knows if Justin will be embracing his “white roots”.  Being able to “play the field” due to privilege is more of a societal issue than it is a personal issue. And maybe one day we can work on that.

Much Love