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Childish Gambino sued for alleged ‘This Is America’ copyright infringement

Childish Gambino arrives for the 60th Grammy Awards. — AFP pic

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NEW YORK, May 7 — Childish Gambino is being sued for alleged copyright infringement, with the rapper Kidd Wes saying the Grammy-winning hit This Is America was lifted from him.

According to US federal court documents Emelike Nwosuocha says the 2018 rap smash from Donald Glover, whose alter ego is Childish Gambino, is “glaringly similar” to a song he released two years prior on the Soundcloud platform.

The complaint filed in New York cites “nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus — or ‘hook’ — sections that are the centerpieces of both songs.”

This Is America in 2019 become the first rap song to win the prestigious Grammys honouring best song and best record.

The song is packed with social commentary and juxtaposes an up-tempo rhythm, layered with church hymns and Afrobeats, with a heavier, more foreboding bassline. 

Nwosuocha says the flow of his song and Gambino’s are “unmistakably substantially similar, if not practically identical.”

He cited a musicologist he employed to compare the two tracks, who said “similarities in melodic contour, rhythmic triplet flow in each performance, and the lines Made in America and This is America’ are “likely not coincidences.”

Nwosuocha is seeking a trial and damages, including for lost profits and opportunities. 

Among the defendants named in the complaint are Gambino’s record label RCA, along with Roc Nation and the rapper Young Thug, who is credited as a writer and performing backing vocals.

Gambino has not publicly responded to the allegations.

In 2018 a blogger wrote of a similarity between This Is America and a track from rapper Jase Harley called American Pharaoh.

Harley declined to pursue legal action, as Gambino’s manager rejected the plagiarism allegations, saying computer files dating back to 2015 proved Gambino’s song was original. — AFP

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