Donald Glover‘s hip-hop alter-ego Childish Gambino is back with a new video that challenges some of today’s biggest headline makers.
After performing “This Is America” on Saturday Night Live — where the Atlanta star and creator pulled double duty as both host and musical guest — he dropped the Hiro Murai-directed music video. In it, Glover pulls off trendy dances with kids in school uniforms, distracting from (and perhaps completely unaware of) what’s happening in the background as they’re followed around the warehouse: rioters, cars set ablaze and police vehicles with their sirens on.
The video — which contains violent imagery — is also filled with commentary on gun violence, CNN notes. At the beginning, Glover shoots a bounded man in the back of the head — the gun is then handled with care as the body is dragged away. He later unloads bullets on a gospel choir, a possible reference to the nine people killed in the 2015 Charleston church shooting. Again, the firearm is taken away on a red cloth, as noted by Forbes.
“This is America. Don’t catch you slippin’ up,” he sings. “Don’t catch you slippin’ up. Look what I’m whippin’ up.”
In case you missed it, “This Is America” also featured a cameo from SZA.
Despite some backlash for simply making a violent video for controversy’s sake, celebrities praised Glover for putting a spotlight on some major issues.
“What happens when you put creative agency in the hands of artists,” wrote Black Panther actor Winston Duke on Twitter. “Powerful narratives, carried by the vehicle of entertainment. Specificity is the universal connective tissue. Big shout to @childishgambino for this one.”
Adele also dedicated some words to Glover in her birthday post on Instagram.
“Ps Childish Gambino how the hell do you have time to offer us so much greatness on so many platforms,” she wrote. “I adore you x.”
Jaden Smith hailed the video as “iconic” on Twitter, while Nine Inch Nails rocker Trent Reznor said, “I can’t remember the last time I watched a music video all the way to the end, let alone one five times in a row. Incredible work!”
Many also compared Glover’s release to the recent antics of Kanye West, who raised eyebrows with his tweets supporting President Donald Trump and suggested slavery was a “choice” during an interview on TMZ.
“Kanye declares himself a genius drops ‘poopty Scoop.’ Donald Glover drops #ThisIsAmerica & says nothing,” said Rome Flynn. “I’ll let you decide who the genius is here.”