It’s been almost exactly three years since Donald Glover (as Childish Gambino) released “This Is America,” his Grammy-winning exploration of trap music, gun violence, and America’s festering relationship with its long and bloody history on race. To celebrate this milestone in the life of one of the most important songs of his career to date, the rapper did what any of us might do on such an august occasion: Got sued for plagiarism by another musician, claiming he ripped him off.
This is per Pitchfork, which notes in passing that the claims made this week by rapper Kidd Wes, alleging that his 2016 song “Made In America” served as the inspiration for “This Is America,” are not the first time that Glover’s single has been accused of lifting cues from another song. (In the past, the song was noted to share a number of elements with Jase Harley’s “American Pharoah,” although Glover’s manager, Fam Rothstein, denied the accusations, and stated that the song was in development long before “American Pharoah” was ever released.)
Here in the present day, Kidd Wes (birth name Emelike Wesley Nwosuocha) is suing not just Glover but also, to quote Pitchfork, “co-writer Young Thug, producer Lüdwig Goransson, Kobalt Music, RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Young Stoner Life Publishing LLC, 300 Entertainment, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Roc Nation, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Warner Chappell Music.” In the suit, Kidd Wes and his lawyers assert “the substantial similarities between both songs include, but are not limited to, nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus—or ‘hook’—sections that are the centerpieces of both songs.”
Which: You can listen to both yourself and see if you think those assertions track. (Certainly, there are similar stylistic and lyrical elements, but we have no standing to say what might happen if this thing ever goes in front of a judge, if it ever goes in front of a judge.) We will say that Kidd Wes’ song doesn’t do very well by putting itself into direct comparison to Glover’s, which might help explain why that one got the Grammy (rather, multiple Grammys) and the other, well, didn’t, despite any surface similarities.