Childish Gambino targets gun violence, racism in viral video

PHOTO: YouTube screengrab

Washington - A graphic music video by Childish Gambino is racking up views on YouTube with a powerful message about gun violence and racism in America.

This Is America by Childish Gambino - the hip-hop alter ego of actor Donald Glover - has amassed more than 35 million views on YouTube in two days, rocketing to the top of the site's trending page.

The four-minute video begins with a shirtless Glover dancing to a soothing rhythm in an empty warehouse and singing "We just wanna party" and "We just want the money". He suddenly pulls out a handgun from the back of his pants and executes a hooded man sitting in a chair.

A heavier, more foreboding beat drops, and Glover raps: "This is America - don't catch you slipping up." "Yeah, this is America," he says. "Guns in my area."

Later in the video, he guns down an all-black church choir in a sequence some commentators have interpreted as a reference to the 2015 murders of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina.

At several points, children in school uniforms join Glover in his hypnotic dance as violence occurs in the background.

The video, directed by Hiro Murai, ends with a terror-stricken Glover fleeing as if from a lynch mob.

The video follows Glover's appearance over the weekend as the host of the show Saturday Night Live, where he quipped: "I'm an actor, a writer and a singer. Some people have described me as a triple threat. But I kind of like to call myself just a threat."

The 34-year-old is to appear as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is being released on May 25.