It’s the song that defined 2018 and gave us perhaps one of the most iconic, instantly recognizable visuals in recent times. It’s also apparently stolen. Yes, we’re talking about Childish Gambino‘s “This Is America.”
According to Pitchfork, a new lawsuit by Florida Rapper Kidd Wes — real name Emelike Wesley Nwosuocha — alleges that Gambino’s popular song infringes on the copyright of his 2016 song “Made in America.” Nwosuocha’s track was supposedly first uploaded on SoundCloud in 2016 before appearing on his 2017 album Eleven: The Junior Senior Year.
Per the legal documents, Nwosuocha claims that “the substantial similarities between both songs include, but are not limited to, nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus—or ‘hook’—sections that are the centerpieces of both songs.”
We listened to both songs and Kidd Wes isn’t lying. In addition to dealing with the same political themes, sonically his flow and cadence — on the hook especially — are very much recognizable in Gambino’s 2018 song.
The list of defendants in Kidd Wes’ lawsuit is extensive. In addition to Donald Glover, the defendants are: “This Is America” co-writer Young Thug, “This Is America” producer Lüdwig Goransson, Kobalt Music, RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Young Stoner Life Publishing LLC, 300 Entertainment, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Roc Nation, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Warner Chappell Music.
Currently, Nwosuocha is seeking damages from profit in a minimum of 43 categories. “The similarities between the two pieces of music are beyond coincidental, and amounts to infringement, as alleged in the complaint,” Kidd Wes’ lawyers said in a statement to Pitchfork. “Mr. Nwosuocha is confident in his claims, and simply seeks the credit and compensation he deserves for the unauthorized use of his music.”
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” has faced allegations of plagiarism. Back in 2018, New York rapper Jase Harley claimed that Gambino “stole” from his March 2016 song “American Pharaoh.” At the time, Childish Gambino collaborator Fam Rothstein denied the claims by tweeting (and then deleting) that “Made in America” was “3 yrs old,” suggesting the track was composed in 2015.
Stay tuned for updates.