Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ Is The First Rap Song To Win Grammys For Record And Song Of The Year

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There’s likely no better time to make Black history than Black History Month and that’s exactly what Childish Gambino did at the 61st Grammy Awards. In the 30 years since the show has acknowledged rap music, no rap song had ever won for Record Of The Year or Song Of The Year — Childish Gambino did both with his summertime hit “This Is America.” The song, which made waves on its release for its thought-provoking video, has caused yet another groundbreaking reaction, this time for making history.

Ironically, Childish Gambino — aka Donald Glover — was not in attendance to accept either award, which were instead accepted by the show’s presenters and by Gambino’s collaborator, Ludwig Göransson. Göransson broke down the appeal of the song in his speech, saying, “No matter where you’re born or what country you’re from, you connect with ‘This is America.’ It speaks to people … it calls out injustice, celebrates life, and reunites us all at the same time.” Göransson was also the only artist to shout-out the incarcerated 21 Savage, who is being held in ICE detention after it was discovered that he was born in the UK and overstayed his visa as a child. Savage appears as a backing vocalist on the song.

The Recording Academy explains the difference between Record and Song Of The Year on its website:

Simply put, Record Of The Year deals with a specific recording of a song and recognizes the artists, producers and engineers who contribute to that recording, while Song Of The Year deals with the composition of a song and recognizes the songwriters who wrote the song.

This means that while Donald Glover and Göransson likely receive all the credit for the Song Of The Year award for actually writing and composing “This Is America,” Record Of The Year could easily be split between 21 Savage, Blocboy JB, Quavo, Slim Jxmmi, and Young Thug, all of whom appeared as backing vocals, and MixedByAli, who engineered the record and joined Göransson onstage to accept the award, but didn’t speak.