Despite his absence from the ceremony, Donald Glover’s alter ego attains one of the Grammys’ highest honors for his blistering song about gun violence.
Although he wasn’t actually in the house at the 2019 Grammys, Donald Glover brought the house down when his alter ego Childish Gambino won Song of the Year for “This Is America” during Sunday’s ceremony.
Gambino’s scathing video about gun violence had a massively viral release last May and remained one of the most talked-about musical moments of 2018. The song has since racked up nearly 500 million views on YouTube.
“This Is America” won Song of the Year — one of the Grammys four top honors — over fellow nominees including Black Panther’s hit single “All the Stars” and Drake’s “God’s Plan.” Donald Glover and songwriter Ludwig Göransson shared songwriting credits.
Glover’s absence — host Alicia Keys accepted the Song of the Year award on his behalf — was one of a cadre of high-profile Grammy disses among artists with multiple nominations in major categories. These included Drake and Kendrick Lamar, whose 2018 albums Scorpion and the Black Panther soundtrack, respectively, are each nominated for Album of the Year. Both Drake and Lamar refused invitations to perform, and their refusals, like Glover’s absence, have generally been interpreted as protests against the Grammys’ ongoing problems with diversifying its many, many awards categories.
Childish Gambino and “This Is America” are also nominated for Record of the Year, Best Rap/Sung Performance, and Best Music Video.