Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, is having a hot 2018 thanks in part to his smash single “This is America”. However, now the track is bringing him heat of a different kind, as he’s been accused of plagiarizing the song.
The allegations arose on Instagram and Reddit as listeners pointed out similarities between “This is America” and “American Pharaoh” by New York rapper Jase Harley. In response to a tweet from user Ahmed/Toronto Akademiks/Every White Blogger, Glover’s creative partner, Fam Rothstein (a co-producer of the “This is America” video and co-principal in the Wolf + Rothstein creative agency alongside Glover and Wolf Taylor), issued a denial.
“The internet is a place of no consequences,” Rothstein wrote. “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.” The implication is that “This is America” began three years ago, before Harley released “American Pharaoh” in March 2016.
Either way, Harley himself doesn’t seem too irked by the alleged musical theft. While he responded to one Instagram message by saying, “I always felt my song inspired it lol from the first time I heard it,” he also said he was happy to have potentially been that inspiration. “lol word a shout out would be cool ????????♂️ all good tho,” he wrote in another message. “He’s a great artist, dope I could’ve had some influence on the record.”
Harley also released a full statement on Instagram in which he once again emphasized that the controversy shouldn’t overshadow the art. “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,” he wrote. “I appreciate all the love and support! But PLEASE DON’T let this controversy dilute the message me and @childishgambino are trying to convey.”
Read his full message below, followed by Rothstein’s tweet.
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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
Listen to “This is America” and “American Pharaoh” in full: