by Diego Perdomo
Following his hit April single “This Is America,” a polarizing commentary on gun violence and youth culture in contemporary American society, entertainer Donald Glover released two singles in his July EP Summer Pack under his rap alias, Childish Gambino. Of the two singles, “Feels Like Summer” has become the most notorious, due to its cameo-ridden video and foreboding lyrics.
The music video, storyboarded by artist Justin Richburg and co-directed by Ivan Dixon and Greg Sharp, boasts 63 cameos from black musicians, artists, and celebrities such as Drake, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Tiffany Haddish. As a result, many have speculated the song is a tribute and celebration of modern black culture. However, other listeners have focused on the lyrics being centered around environmental issues like climate change. Controversy and debate have also risen from evocative vignettes that highlight the raw emotion within prominent figures like Kid Cudi and Chris Brown.
The music video begins with Childish Gambino walking down a hazy street depicting the suburbs of Atlanta. As he strolls down the street apathetically, musicians and popular figures make cameos in houses and lawns nearby. Such scenes include the Migos playing basketball, Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott playing with building blocks in reference to the album competition between them, new age rappers Trippie Redd and Lil Pump learning from more experienced rapper Soulja Boy, and a recently freed Gucci Mane enjoying his freedom from incarceration.
During the pre-chorus, there are scenes where black background vignettes display scenes like a tearful Kanye West wearing a MAGA hat being embraced by Michelle Obama, Beyonce wearing a shirt displaying “RIP Fredo Santana,” and a scene of Shannon Sharpe on a bench with melting ice cream that many have interpreted as Florida Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum or a tribute to late rapper XXXTentacion. A second black out scene displays Kid Cudi, Chris Brown, Outkast, and youthful portrayals of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.
The video concludes with Childish Gambino walking into his home away from everyone else, alluding to Donald Glover’s plans to retire his pseudonym. With his exit, he leaves behind themes of legacy, overcoming obstacles, and culture.
On the other hand, the lyrics have been interpreted by many to talk about the disorder going around the world like overpopulation and the uncertainty of hope, “Seven billion souls that move around the sun. / Running out of water, its about to go down. / Every day gets hotter than the one before. / I’m hopin’ that this world will change. / Air that kills the bees that we depend upon.” Some speculate that Glover intended to misguide viewers with flashy cameos while giving his true opinions on global issues, similar to the way he provided a video to “This Is America.”
Much like “This Is America,” “Feels Like Summer” has garnered a sizable amount of criticism, especially in the depiction of an interaction between Kanye West and Michelle Obama. While some argue on the scene supporting the idea that women must support broken men, others believe that the scene represents Kanye West with a maternal figure, after losing his own in 2007, and suffering because his recent divisive ideas.
“Just so you know, it is not the job of black women to heal or fix black men,” said Twitter user LegalSojourner, in opposition to the scene. “Black women do not exist to be other people’s mules.”
The argument highlighted by LegalSojourner exemplifies the disdain that some black women have for the role that they have in society. This rationalization is further developed in a tweet by user Typicalblkchick. “This message is both confusing and infuriating. Black women have our own issues, yet we have to fix everyone else’s. Who is there to save us?”
“I liked the Kanye West part because it shows that Kanye is really making mistakes in his career and needs to push us forward,” said sophomore Austin Velazquez. “He’s still the amazing creative mind he always was.”
Followers of Kanye West’s recent actions are no stranger to his erratic decisions. For example, West infamously said “,When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” This statement shocked many and prompted him to address his claim in the song “Wouldn’t Leave,” in his eighth studio album “Ye”. West later apologized tearfully in an interview with WGCI-FM, a radio station from his hometown, Chicago.
Glover has become more involved in his creative pursuits in television and acting, scoring a role as young Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars spinoff Solo and writing and starring in his hit show Atlanta. Donald Glover has revealed plans to retire from rapping after his “This Is America” tour. “There’s nothing worse than like a third sequel, like a third movie and we’re like, ‘again?’” he said. “I like it when something’s good and when it comes back there’s a reason to come back, there’s a reason to do that.”
“I think endings are good because they force things to get better,” said Glover at the 60th Grammy Awards. Even as his musical career reaches its end, the general public awaits for Glover’s future endeavours.