It Was Alex Tumay’s Idea to Include Ad-Libs in Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”

Tumay: "The song has this all encompassing energy and I felt like that was the best way to capture it."

Shortly after Childish Gambino released his thought-provoking track “This Is America,” listeners began to notice the handful of cameos featured throughout the “featureless” track.

Gambino’s hard-hitting lines were punctuated by ad-libs from Young Thug, 21 Savage, Quavo, Slim Jxmmi, and BlocBoy JB, which ultimately underscored the ways in which pop culture is used to distract us from social injustices. The slew of ad-libs provided a subtle, yet powerful, element to the song; and it was apparently all Alex Tumay’s idea.

On Wednesday afternoon, the famed producer and music engineer revealed he was responsible for the cameos in “This Is America.” Tumay shared a screenshot of Genius’ Instagram post that referenced the guest ad-libs. The New York-based audio engineer, who contributed to Gambino’s track, wrote in the caption: “my idea.”

Tumay also addressed this topic via Twitter, explaining he had pitched this ad-lib idea to a number of other artists before. “I just gave the idea to go get a bunch of rappers to do ad-libs on the track instead of any traditional features,” he wrote. “The song has this all encompassing energy and I felt like that was the best way to capture it. Just feels good that someone took one of my ideas seriously and it worked.”

Since its release over the weekend, “This Is America” has become one of Gambino’s most successful tracks, thanks in large part to its Hiro Murai-directed video. The visual has garnered more than 50. 4 million views on YouTube, 12.9 million views of which occurred within the first 24 hours.

As most of you know, there is a lot to dissect within the surreal video, which is why many people have viewed it multiple times to catch references that were previously missed. “This Is America” is now considered one of the 10 biggest music debuts of 2018, surpassing 30 million views within just 48 hours. It has also been the most watched YouTube video of the day from Sunday to Tuesday. And at its peak (May 7), the video received more than 950,000 views in just one hour.

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