A lot of people on the Internet believe so, after his song was compared to the rapper Jase Harley’s cut “American Pharoah.”
“The songs are almost identical,” one person wrote on Harley’s Instagram page. “You need to sue and collect your share.”
“Bro, you don’t need to be humble about this,” wrote another. “That song was straight jacked from you. You need to collect.”
If you listen to the songs side by side, you might notice some of the similarities people are speaking of, like the rolling percussion sounds both have and the African styled singing. Plus, Harley says the word “America” throughout his tune, almost in the same cadence as Glover’s hit, and they both do it over dark, heavy bass.
The subject matter of both cuts are also similar.
“I’m young and I’m Black in America / They try to attack and embarrass us / Y’all don’t want ya’ll daughters to marry us … Police killed my best friend, they shoot him dead / I do not forgive, I do not forget / My life is a cliff and I’m by the ledge / And in less that a moment a lot is said,” raps Harley in “American Pharaoh.”
After the plagiarism talk grew louder, Gambino’s manager Fam Udeorji spoke out and he didn’t only deny that his client stole the cut, he blasted people for even believing so.
“The Internet is a place of no consequences,” he wrote. “I hate that Toronto Akademiks, every white blogger can say something as gospel and y’all take it. This song is three years old, and we have Pro Tools files to prove it. But f–k you and your moms and your future fetuses. Stay blessed.”
Eventually, Harley responded to the chatter and said although he’s always felt “American Pharaoh” inspired “This is America,” he has no hard feelings.
Plus, Harley said he understands why Gambino didn’t acknowledge him or his song, because so many artists would’ve wanted money.
“All artist get inspired by others,” he wrote. “Artists being thirsty for bread is why people don’t want to credit anyone for inspiration. It’s all love and support from me.”
“A shout out would be cool,” he added. “All good, though. He’s a great artist. Dope I could’ve had some influence on the record.”
You can see another response from Harley below, as well as other folks who’ve weighed in.
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I feel extremely humbled to be recognized and labeled as one of the original inspirations for one of the most important pieces of music and visual art of our time. I appreciate all the love and support! But PLEASE DON’T let this controversy dilute the message me and @childishgambino are trying to convey. We are speaking about injustices we’ve encountered and he’s helped to provide a platform for all our voices to be heard. Let’s not discredit him for that! The focus should be on affecting change in our communities and building equality. This is bigger than me and him and bigger than music. Let’s not lose focus 🙏🏾 #noonewinswhenthefamilyfeuds #futurists
okay so I listened to “American Pharaoh” and compared it to “this is America” and like it’s kind of similar but it’s honestly just that. similar. Bino didn’t steal that song. Both songs are very good. I will say tho jase Harley has found his way into my dossier 🙂 dude is good fr
— dylan richardson (@futurafunky) June 25, 2018
that’s fair that he said that, but it’s still messed up thst big artists are able to do that bc they have the platform and just don’t give credit where it’s due. the guy may feel honored, but I’m still pissed that that was done to him.
— aleah (@bitem__e) June 25, 2018
American Pharaoh is obviously a source for This is America. As a stand-alone song, it’s probably better than Glover’s take. There’s a clear case for legal action if Harley wanted, but there are smarter moves for someone who wants a career in the industry.
— Mittens (@D_JamesW) June 25, 2018
He was ripped off and I hope he gets a lawyer.
— Bill (@Epicstrokes) June 25, 2018
It seems like the smart move…because his moves are very limited. Even when you’re the one stolen from, if he were to call it like it is, unfortunately it would be framed as bitterness
— Ⓥ SINGLE PAYER🙌 LOVE IS STRONG! #BernieNina2020 (@InLWithLBeingL) June 25, 2018
You gotta be deaf if you think it’s just “similar”
— jinx (@jinxlive) June 25, 2018
Listen to “welcome to America” by lecrae. Mix it with American Pharoah and I think you have the recipe for “this is America.”
— Connie Jaleese (@ConnieJaleese) June 25, 2018
There are alot of song’s that lyrically and beat wise sound like that also. I don’t see the similarity.
— Rob (@makaveligangsta) June 25, 2018