In case you thought that Donald Glover and his rap alter-ego Childish Gambino were done making social commentary post- “This Is America,” think again.
Glover dropped an animated music video this past Saturday, September 2nd, for his single “Feels Like Summer,” which was released in June. The video’s many iconic cartoon cameos, along with the song’s subtle warnings about climate change and other political issues, serves as a visual reminder that Glover’s penchant for social commentary remains strong.
And the video’s animated versions of pop culture figures both present and past, from SZA, Drake, and The Migos, to Chris Brown and Whitney Houston, has people talking. If you’re one of those people attempting to decipher every celeb appearance in “Feels Like Summer,” look no further.
First, here’s the video:
Now, the decoding…
Kanye West and former first lady Michelle Obama
Some think a weeping Kanye West, donning a “Make America Great Again” ball cap while being consoled by a caring former first lady Michelle Obama is a reference to Snoop Dogg saying that Yeezy needs more black women in his life.
Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott
A bored looking Travis Scott knocks over building blocks stacked by a focused Nicki Minaj; a direct nod to the ongoing feud between the two rappers. There’s something to be said for Glover depicting the two as child-like amidst Minaj’s accusations that Scott “used” girlfriend Kylie Jenner to sell records, which she says bumped her album, Queen, from the No. 1 spot.
There’s a sobbing and solo Chris Brown cameo. The fact that the cartoon version of Brown sits alone in the dark may be in reference to the singer’s failure to regain his status after assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.
A cartoon Beyoncé with the wind in her hair stands alone, wearing a shirt that pays tribute to fallen rapper Fredo Santana. Santana was the cousin of Chief Keef, and a well-known Chicago rapper who passed away in January of this year from liver and kidney disease at just 27-years-old.
Among the 20+ celebrity cameos, there are other small, but notable moments in the video. Azealia Banks appears sitting in a tree (throwing shade?) on the outskirts of the industry; there’s a cross-legged Rihanna who appears removed from it all, Future steals Drake’s bike (an allusion to their sometimes rocky friendship perhaps?).
Much like what Glover/Gambino did with “This Is America,” these particular visuals feels like pointed commentary of the world we live in, except this time we get a glimpse of the music industry—and all the public drama that so often overshadows the actual music. Ironically, Glover portrays himself as an outside observer to it all in the video, casually strolling by the scenes, but not a part of any of them.
We have a feeling that may change now that this new video is out in the world, for better or for worse.