Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino released the video for "This Is America" in YouTube right before his Saturday Night Live appearance.
Debuting Two New Tracks
Glover, who created and starred in the hit show Atlanta, is due to appear in Star Wars spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story later this year.
The super-busy star performed two songs as Childish Gambino on SNL, the other fittingly entitled "Saturday." The accompanying music video for the more serious "This Is America" dropped online shortly before the episode aired.
This the first new music he released since 2016's Grammy-nominated album "Awaken, My Love!" Black Panther actor Daniel Kaluuya, who also received an Oscar nomination for his role in Jordan Peele's Get Out, introduced Glover for "This Is America."
The performance, which echoed many of the elements in the disturbing and violent music video found a shirtless Glover highlighted by laser beams while children in school uniforms danced.
"Don't catch you slippin' now. Look at how I'm livin' now. Police be trippin' now," he sang.
The Message Is Clear
The music video, which is set in a large warehouse, also features a shirtless Glover. He dances around giddily before taking breaks for a couple of point-blank shootings.
Hiro Murai, Glover's frequent collaborator on Atlanta, directed the video. The message seems to be about gun violence and civil unrest in the States, although Glover and Murai didn't make their intentions too obvious.
A large ensemble cast features the camera weaving in and out as it follows Glover around the space. The mood shifts jarringly between melodic and even celebratory to dark and violent.
References to Black Lives Matter, the Charlottesville Unite The Right rally, the Charleston church shooting, as well as police shootings, and terrorism abound. Glover clearly has a lot to say, the repetition of the stark "This is America!" chorus furthering his point.
The whole thing ends with Glover running in slow motion through a dark passage, highlighting that the dark forces at play throughout the video may have finally taken hold of him.
Showing Off What He Can Do
Big Little Lies star Zoe Kravitz introduced Glover's live performance of "Saturday," a more upbeat song. Glover is retiring the Childish Gambino moniker soon, stating the next album he releases will be his last.
A new album is expected later this year, with Glover set to appear in fall wit Rae Sremmurd and Vince Staples. His hosting gig on SNL was widely considered to be one of the best of the most recent season.
During his opening monologue on the show, he noted that rather than be seen as a triple threat, he views himself as just a threat. Glover also revealed that he auditioned for the show back in the day but hadn't made the cut, pointing out how things sometimes work out in the end.
The actor, singer, and writer made a serious impression on the sketch show, to make up for how they'd rejected him before. He appeared in sketches surrounding Kanye West's loopy Twitter feed and in one entitled "Lando's Summit," which featured Glover as his Solo character, the legendary Lando Calrissian.
He also appeared in a new, 30-second teaser clip for the movie, which drops May 25. Glover has been the focus of much of the marketing material thus far, resplendent in a variety of funky outfits.
Check out the full video for "This Is America" below.