“Where is the love” & “This is America” Comparative Analysis
One can be easily captivated by the song “This is America” by Childish Gambino and “Where is the love?”, composed by The Black Eyed Peas, not only because of their upbeat tunes but the meanings behind it. With both lyrics expressing the hidden feelings of individuals and society in general, the songs address current ongoing issues the world is willing to do nothing about. With both songs possessing very similar qualities, both artists illustrate that our society has become very self-obsessed and that everything is based on your status and appearance. Racism and discrimination play a large part in both songs and illustrate the often brutalities faced when living as a black citizen in America, and that with the way the world is going we are creating our own violence and terrorism, destroying humanity.
Both artists chose to demonstrate the value of money towards humans and how appearance is all that matters. “Get your money, black man” was repeatedly stated in Gambinos song, I believe that this verse refers to the ‘need’ of being very successful in life and making a lot of money in order to be great. Resulting with many black men going out and trying to become rich without even thinking of the possible consequences they are set to face from their riches or fame. Gambino also tends to mimic people who are easily distracted from social issues by material items and social status when he mentions “I’m so fitted, I’m on Gucci, I’m so pretty, I’m gon’ get it, Watch me move”. Similarly, in “Where is the love?” the group told “Not respectin’ each other, deny thy brother”, which demonstrates the lack of respect within our society, many people tend to be more self-centered, without caring for those around them. The Black Eyed Peas also stated that “Most of us only care about money makin’, selfishness got us followin the wrong direction, wrong information always shown by the media.” This phrase is very much like what was used in “This is America”, with both songs similarly expressing their views and the fact that everyone chooses to value money over respect and the influence it has on the youth of today.
Additionally, both of the songs appear to be a commentary on black life in America, they contrast popular culture’s perception of black experience and it’s often brutal reality. A few times throughout the song, Gambino says “Look how I’m livin’ now, police be trippin’ now”, this is referring to police brutality in the U.S.A, due to the common stereotype that particularly white police officers are systematically racist towards blacks, hence why death is nearly expected for African Americans, thus a reason to live with lack of respect and care knowing your life is at stake. He later on continues “You just a black man in this world, you just a barcode, ayy”, simply explaining to his audience that black people are just products that are not needed in this ‘world’, the artist could also be referring to the word ‘barcode’ as barcode scanners read the white space between the bars, rather than the bars themselves. In addition to that, when ‘The Black Eyed Peas’ used the lyrics “Yo’ whatever happened to the values of humanity, whatever happened to the fairness and equality”, the group is suggesting the difficulty of pursuing equality among the various races, likewise in ‘This is America’. Furthermore, the group also shed a light on discrimination, “but if you only have love for your own race, then you only leave space to discriminate”, this sentence reaches out to the listeners to generate and acquire love for everyone, even if from different races. It also expresses the impact discrimination has on an individual, explaining the significant contribution to hate.
Moreover, the artists explored the ever-increasing violence in society today. Gamino highlights the gun violence epidemic and the many instances of police brutality in America, with many victims brutalised with impunity after having done so little or no wrong. In both songs we are told of the influence upon youths and how we have grown up into a world where just about any issue is not even cared to be dealt with, but instead, is left for too long until someone has the courage to take action, just like Childish Gambino and The Black Eyed Peas. Gambino also used the phrase “I got the plug in Oaxaca, they gonna find ya like blocka”, in order to present that he has a drug supplier in Oaxaca, who would act as an assassin for him, threatening to have people gunned down. In the song ‘Where is the love?’ the group asks “can you practice what you preach?” This is telling the audience that we individuals often know what is right and wrong, yet we still choose to go for the wrong. The Black Eyed Peas also mention; “overseas, yeah, we try to stop the terrorism, but we still got terrorists here livin”, claiming that while the American government is so focused on terrorism overseas, they’re too blind to see the grave injustice within the country’s own borders, which leaves us questioning; How America thinks they can possibly help others around them if they can’t simply support themselves? ‘This is America’ and ‘Where is the love?’ both give a broad understanding of our modern day violence crisis in which our society has created.
Ultimately, “This is America” and “Where is the love?” suggested that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for humanity, Gambino and The Black Eyed Peas kept their audience captivated by revealing the insane reality we are currently living in. From the normalness of being a self absorbed individual, valuing money over respect, and the ongoing racial society, to encouraging hatred and violence, our humanity is slowly deteriorating and as we continue down the path of hate and greed, we will essentially destroy ourselves and the world. The artists try to assist us by broadening our knowledge about what’s really happening in our world and encourage us to be loving and caring towards one another no matter your race.