This Is America Sounds A Lot Like American Pharaoh

Whether a person is a writer, an actor or a rapper, the work is a vital part of the craft. And proprietary. It’s not just about getting a nod for it. It’s about paying people when they “inspire” you and respecting other people’s artistry. In the words of Erykah Badu, “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my sh*t!”

Donald Glover has, seemingly, transitioned from actor to music artist without a hitch. According to fans and critics, he has been praised for being an innovator of his craft. His new single “This Is America” debuted at no. 1. It is provocative and the message of injustice in America rings loud and clear. He was touted as a genius for having the courage to say what Black folks have been feeling in this country, although he has been reluctant to break down the video (skip to the 2:24 mark).

The message is poignant — but, with a few variances, it sounds an awful lot like “American Pharaoh” by New York rapper Jase Harley. It’s so similar that charges of plagiarism have been suggested. The situation came to a head when Harley posted, via Instagram, his gratitude for the support and a message to not let the situation get in the way of what’s being conveyed.

Glover has been silent on the matter. However Fam Rothstein, Glover’s creative partner, flat out denied the charge. In a now-deleted statement on Twitter, Rothstein said: “The internet is a place of no consequences. I hate that Toronto Akademiks/every white blogger can say something as gospel and y’all take it. This song is 3 yrs old, and we have Pro Tools files to prove it.”

It remains to be seen if Rothstein will actually provide proof that the project actually began three years ago, nor can it be determined if Harley will pursue legal action. What is clear is the time and effort that was poured into both projects. They are messages that need to be heard at this time. Their work should be recognized and compensated. If “This is America” was “inspired” by “American Pharaoh,” hopefully all parties involved will do the right thing.

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