Donald Glover — who goes by the stage name Childish Gambino — electrified the BET Awards on Sunday with an impromptu performance of “This Is America” alongside Jamie Foxx. But fans were sent into a frenzy amid claims that the politically-charged track, which tackles the issue of police brutality and racism in America, relied a little too heavily on a song by another artist.
The controversy began when fans on social media pointed out the similarities between the hit song and New Jersey rapper Jase Harley’s 2016 track “American Pharaoh” from his debut album Free Pxrn: The Memoir of an American Heathen.
Allegations that Glover ripped off the song also began to bubble up on Reddit, when users resurfaced a conversation that was held in the comments on one of Harley’s Instagram photos.
“People are saying Donald Glover bit your song ‘American Pharoah’ with ‘This Is America.’ What do you think?” one fan wrote, inviting Harley’s thoughts.
“I always felt my song inspired it lol from the first time I heard it,” Harley admitted before adding, “It’s cool tho…. Glad they liked my song. It’s all love.”
A hip-hop blogger going by the name “Ahmed/Toronto Akademiks/Every White Blogger” poured fuel on the fire following the BET Awards on Sunday, tweeting: “Jamie Foxx talking about This Is America and we found out Donald Glover stole the song today qjajaldmaksmaksm.”
However, Glover’s manager, Fam “Rothstein” Udeorji, rebuked the accusations in a now-deleted tweet that has been captured by numerous outlets — including Esquire.
“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 the pro tools files to prove it. but f— you and your moms, and your future fetuses. stay blessed,” Udeorji reportedly said in the tweet.
On Monday, Harley took to Instagram to respond to the backlash and thank fans for the support.
“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,” he wrote.
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