One of the most interesting moments in this video is when Gambino says, “This a celly / That’s a tool.” In the clip, the camera pans to a group of kids with their faces covered, appearing to be recording the insanity on their cell phones. It’s either highlighting just how powerful the cellphone has become in documenting these horrific acts of violence being brought upon us these days, or a reference to the Stephon Clark case, where police thought Clark was holding a gun or a tool and shot him to death in a backyard, only to find out he was holding his cellphone.
If that interpretation is correct that would mean that Glover wrote and recorded this song, then shot the video for it, some time after Clark’s death in late March 2018. Glover swiftly turning around art that speaks directly to recent news isn’t unheard of, considering that Glover “leaked” that script for his now-cancelled Deadpool animated series referencing #WhoBitBeyonce during the same week we tried to figure out #WhoBitBeyonce. AKA we’re just amassing proof of how much of a creative genius Donald Glover truly is.
One of the heaviest moments is the end of the video, which finds the warehouse dark and seemingly barren, until we see Gambino running for his life from a lynch mob of what appears to be all-white faces. There are a number of schools of thought on this ending; some posit that it’s the ideals of white supremacy intruding on the life of black people. Others have likened it to a slave running through the woods at night. One has to wonder if this was Gambino’s attempt to escape The Sunken Place, which could explain why Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya introduces Childish Gambino on Saturday Night Live right before the performance of “This Is America.”