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Did Donald Glover rip off ‘This Is America’ from this little-known rapper? (updated)
Donald Glover’s “This Is America” blew up in May, as we collectively attempted to deconstruct its message and visuals. The video now has close to 300 million views. But is the song pulled from a 2016 track called “American Pharaoh?”
Over the weekend, people started debating whether Glover lifted “This Is America” from an artist named Jase Harley. The cadence of the vocals and the beat are similar, as is the melody in the interlude. Both songs have similar themes and lyrics. Played over the “This Is America” video, the similarities come into focus a bit more.
— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) June 24, 2018
The songwriting credits for “This Is America” list only Glover and longtime creative partner Ludwig Göransson, who produced his 2016 album Awaken, My Love! Some commenters claimed it was plagiarism, while others asserted it could just be coincidence, or some grey area in between, where perhaps Glover’s team did reach out to Harley in some capacity.
https://t.co/vzE7948Gn7 They sound mad similar in structure and certain parts of the flow. This is one of the few times where it doesn't seem like people are reaching bro. Hmm.
— ✞⁷ (@jrewl) June 25, 2018
Harley allegedly acknowledged the similarity in an Instagram comment and doesn’t appear to be salty about it, though he did mention “a shout out would be cool.”
Yeah he's talked about it a bit on IG and doesn't seem upset…but also doesn't seem to have gotten the bag either pic.twitter.com/oMFqPKgIt4
— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) June 25, 2018
We’ve reached out to Harley for comment, as well as Glover’s representatives, and will update if we hear back.
Update 2:15pm CT, June 25: Glover’s manager says the song is 3 years old and says he has the audio files to prove it. However, he has since deleted this claim, which arrived via Twitter.
Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.