Donald Glover
Donald Glover who will take on the role of main protagonist Simba/ Instagram

He has conquered the worlds of television, film and music. Donald Glover rang in the latest triumph in his career as he secured his first US number one single with This Is America.

The 34-year-old solo star, who performs under the stage name Childish Gambino, saw his latest release debut atop the Billboard Hot 100, knocking Drake’s Nice For What into the number two slot.

Donald Glover
Donald Glover who will take on the role of main protagonist Simba/ Instagram

The  powerful four-minute video clocked up 85.3 million views during its first week on the site, was viewed more than 10 million times in the first 24 hours and currently stands at 126 million views.

This is America’s music video is packed with powerful imagery and messages about murder, racism, the current debate over gun control and police brutality.

It is set in a warehouse and features a shirtless Glover alternating between upbeat, celebratory dancing and point-blank shootings and scenes of unrest.

Many are arguing that Glover’s dance moves has shed light on what Americans really pay attention to, given it aims to serve as a distraction from all the chaos happening in the background.

The video references – sometimes subtly – Black Lives Matter, the Charlottesville protests, the Charleston Church Massacre, police shootings and even the Civil Rights era.

The video’s first shocking moment comes when a smiling Gambino dances up behind a black man with his head covered, pulls out a handgun and executes him at point black range.

Glover resumes dancing before moments later pulling out an semi-automatic rifle and slaughtering a singing church choir.

The video ends with a terrified Glover running, presumably for his life, as a group of white men chase him. His lyrics focus on racial inequality and police brutality with lines like: ‘This is America, don’t catch you slippin’ up.

‘Look how I’m livin’ now, police be trippin’ now, yeah, this is America. Guns in my area (word, my area), I got the strap, I gotta carry ’em.’

It quickly started trending on social media as fans and critics started unpacking the video’s meaning.The video also includes several types of dance moves that are popular in both the US and Africa. 

As Glover performs the moves, people riot in the background – prompting some to suggest that black culture is happily adopted but the violence against African-Americans is ignored.

There are also scenes where people are recording violence on their phones and at one point a white horse rides through the background, prompting some to suggest it could be the Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Singer SZA also makes a brief appearance, hinting that there could be a future collaboration between the two artists. The Community star was roundly praised for his social commentary. 

The latest track is one of the songs from Childish Gambino’s upcoming album. Glover, performed the song on television for the first time when he hosted Saturday Night Live.

He is known for his series Atlanta and his upcoming role as young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

He also won a Grammy this year – as Childish Gambino – for best traditional R&B performance for his song Redbone.

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