Childish Gambino's "This Is America" Started As A Drake Diss

Donald Glover explains how Drake inadvertently inspired the biggest song of his career.

BYAron A.

Donald Glover continues to keep fans on their toes for each of his artistic endeavors. Shows like Atlanta cemented him as a brilliant creative mind who successfully pushes the boundaries. Meanwhile, his music ventures as Childish Gambino have proven to be just as fruitful. Projects like Camp and Because Of The Internet showcased his penchant for bars and his unrivaled ear for production. However, it was his subsequent releases that cemented Donald Glover as one of the greatest creatives of our time.

This Is America,” specifically, became one of the biggest hits of his career. The record shattered the internet upon its release, alongside its visuals, before topping the Billboard Hot 100. Needless to say, if there’s any record that stands as a classic in Childish Glover’s catalog, it’s “This Is America.” The political undertone, along with contributions from Young Thug and 21 Savage, among others, turned the record into a definitive moment in pop culture. Still, Glover never intended to see the song do astronomical numbers.

Donald Glover On Dissing Drake 

Say what you will about Drake but he remains an inspiration for even the most brilliant creatives in the world, including Childish Gambino. The artist recently sat down with GQ where he explained that “This Is America” actually began as a Drake diss. “The idea for the song started as a joke, to be completely honest. ‘This is America’ – that was all we had, was, like, that line. And it started as a Drake diss, to be honest [laughs], as like, a funny way of, like, doing it,” he said. “But then I was like, ‘This sh*t sounds kind of hard, though, you know?’ So I was like, ‘Let me play with it.’ So we just had that for a long time.”

This certainly isn’t the first time Donald Glover’s referenced Drake in his work. Previously, an animated version of the Canadian star appeared in the “Feels Like Summer” music video. Beyond that, he also based an Atlanta episode on Drake, aptly titled “Champagne Papi,” where Vanessa heads to a mansion party with her friends hosted by the rapper. Though Drizzy didn’t appear in the episode, he later commented, “this shit is surreal, I'm too high for this.” Perhaps, the two will end up working on music together in the future. Check out Donald Glover’s interview with GQ above. 

  • Link Copied to Clipboard!
About The Author
Aron A. is a features editor for HotNewHipHop. Beginning his tenure at HotNewHipHop in July 2017, he has comprehensively documented the biggest stories in the culture over the past few years. Throughout his time, Aron’s helped introduce a number of buzzing up-and-coming artists to our audience, identifying regional trends and highlighting hip-hop from across the globe. As a Canadian-based music journalist, he has also made a concerted effort to put spotlights on artists hailing from North of the border as part of Rise & Grind, the weekly interview series that he created and launched in 2021. Aron also broke a number of stories through his extensive interviews with beloved figures in the culture. These include industry vets (Quality Control co-founder Kevin "Coach K" Lee, Wayno Clark), definitive producers (DJ Paul, Hit-Boy, Zaytoven), cultural disruptors (Soulja Boy), lyrical heavyweights (Pusha T, Styles P, Danny Brown), cultural pioneers (Dapper Dan, Big Daddy Kane), and the next generation of stars (Lil Durk, Latto, Fivio Foreign, Denzel Curry). Aron also penned cover stories with the likes of Rick Ross, Central Cee, Moneybagg Yo, Vince Staples, and Bobby Shmurda.