Childish Gambino is facing a copyright infringement lawsuit over his rap song, “This is America.”
Rapper Emelike Nwosuocha, who performs as Kidd Wes, says the song copied his track “Made in America.” The track was released two years before Donald Glover debuted “This is America” as Childish Gambino. Glover has yet to respond to the claims of infringement.
“This is America” made history by becoming the first rap track to win Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards. It delivered a scathing message about racial inequality in America, but a lawsuit says most of the themes were lifted from another work.
In court documents, Nwosuocha says there is substantial similarity between the two tracks. He says they share a “distinct and unique vocal cadence, delivery, rhythm, timing, and phrasing.” Nwosuocha notes that the choruses of the two songs were written in the same meter. He calls the lyrical similarities “striking to an extent beyond coincidence” and “audible to the average lay person.”
Nwosuocha employed a musicologist to analyze and compare the two tracks. According to the lawsuit, his official analysis was that the similarities between the two tracks are likely not coincidences. Nwosuocha is demanding a trial and is seeking damages, including lost profits and opportunities. No exact sum is mentioned, but the lawsuit alleges Glover and his co-writers made hundreds of millions of dollars from “This Is America.”
The lawsuit names Childish Gambino, his record label RCA, Roc Nation, and Young Thug, who performed backing vocals on the track. This is not the first time Donald Glover has faced a copyright infringement suit over the Grammy Award-winning track. In 2018, hip-hop blogger Akademiks alleged that the song is similar to “American Pharaoh” by New York rapper Jase Harley.
At the time, Harley said he had no interest in pursuing legal action for copyright infringement against Childish Gambino.
“I feel extremely humbled to be recognized and labelled as one of, or the original inspiration, for one of the most important pieces of music and visual art of our time,” he posted on Instagram when the news broke.
“I appreciate all the love and support! But please don’t let this controversy dilute the message me and Childish Gambino are trying to convey,” he continued.
At the time, Glover’s manager Fam Udeorji denied any claims of plagiarism, saying the song dated back to 2015. Nwosuocha’s “Made In America” was first uploaded to SoundCloud in 2016.