Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” wins Song of the Year at the Grammys

Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover.

Despite his absence from the ceremony, Donald Glover’s blistering song about gun violence became the first rap song in history to win Song of the Year.

Although he wasn’t actually in the house at the 2019 Grammys, Donald Glover brought the house down when his alter ego Childish Gambino won Song of the Year for “This Is America” during Sunday’s ceremony — becoming the first rap song in Grammys history to win the award.

Later on in the evening, he also picked up the Grammy for Record of the Year, which is rewarded for the production of a single song, as well as Best Music Video.

Gambino’s scathing video about gun violence had a massively viral release last May and remained one of the most talked-about musical moments of 2018. The song has since racked up nearly 500 million views on YouTube.

“This Is America” won Song of the Year — one of the Grammys’ four top honors — over fellow nominees including Black Panther’s hit single “All the Stars” and Drake’s “God’s Plan.” Donald Glover and songwriter Ludwig Göransson shared songwriting credits. The award for Record of the Year also went to the song, over nominees like “God’s Plan” and “Shallow” from the Star is Born soundtrack, and it beat nominees like Janelle Monáe’s “Pynk” for Best Music Video.

Glover’s absence — host Alicia Keys accepted the Song of the Year award on his behalf — was one of a cadre of high-profile Grammy disses among artists with multiple nominations in major categories. These included Drake and Kendrick Lamar, whose 2018 albums Scorpion and the Black Panther soundtrack, respectively, are each nominated for Album of the Year. Both Drake and Lamar refused invitations to perform, and their refusals, like Glover’s absence, have generally been interpreted as protests against the Grammys’ problems with diversifying its many, many awards categories.

Glover’s absence despite his many wins was a recurring theme of the awards — but to his fans, the protest may have only underscored the points he’s been making in his music.

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