childish gambino this is australia

First Nations Artists Have Reworked Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ to ‘This Is Australia’

Noongar rapper Beni Bjah has teamed up with dance company Marrugeku for a new version of Childish Gambino‘s 2018 track ‘This Is America’, titled ‘This Is Australia’.

The reworked version takes aim at the systemic and institutionalised racism embedded in Australian history and contemporary society, calling out the Stolen Generation, incarceration rates and deaths in custody. Watch it below.

Beni Bjah and Marrugeku: ‘This Is Australia’

The song begins with the lyrics: “We just want a barbie / Crack a can or two / Put upon your thongs / Aussie day is due / Oh, lest we forget / The footy’s on tonight / Can’t you just get over it / You know she’ll be right.”

The refrain hits just as hard: “This is Australia / Look how I’m killin’ ya / Lockin’ your children up / Fillin’ my prisons up.”

The track is the latest in a long line of recreations of Gambino’s track – ‘This Is Iraq’, ‘This Is Sierra Leone’ and ‘This Is Nigeria’ are among those that have appeared over recent years.

“It’s is a different process to writing an original song, to having a blank canvas,” Bjah told The Guardian of the reworking. “But having Childish Gambino’s version to go off actually helped – ‘This Is America’ had already inspired me so much, all these ideas just popped in my head. We could have probably written three or four songs.”

As reported by The Guardian, Marrugeku’s artistic directors Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain had the idea for the Australian version many years ago, during the time then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison was discussing plans to “re-enact” James Cook’s circumnavigation of Australia (which never actually happened) and the protests over George Floyd’s murder in the United States were erupting.

“We were thinking, how do we respond to all of this?” said Pigram. “And this was it. [Marrugeku] worked on the choreography, while Beni crafted up those amazing lyrics that hit hard in the heart.”

“Australia has a fear of the unknown,” Bjah said. “What we don’t understand, we want to lock up or send home. And we’re the most multicultural country in the world.”

The original music video of ‘This Is America’ was directed by longtime Gambino collaborator, Hiro Murai. The track became Gambino’s #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.

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