Childish Gambino has made Grammy Awards history by winning both song and record of the year for This Is America. It’s the first time a rap song has won both categories although Gambino did not attend or perform at the event. He was the first artist to be absent from collecting one of the “big four” Grammys since Amy Winehouse in 2008. Gambino aka actor Donald Glover beat competition from Drake, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in both categories. Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s All The Stars, Brandi Carlile’s The Joke and The Middle by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey were also up for both awards. This Is America, which was accompanied by a symbolic music video, sparked debate when it was released in May. It looked at the representation of black people in America and the prejudices they faced. While record of the year recognizes everyone involved in a song, including the artist, producers and engineers, song of the year is awarded to the writer.
This Is America co-writer Ludwig Goransson collected the awards on Gambino’s behalf. He said he did not know why Gambino had declined to attend but explained how important recognising rap and hip-hop artists at the Grammys was. “I think if you listen to the radio or if you just watch our culture, if you look at the most downloaded, streamed artists you see what people are getting inspired by,” said Goransson backstage. “It’s about time that something like this happened with the Grammys. They’re getting the same kind of senses as the people.” In addition to song of the year and record of the year, This Is America won awards for best music video and best rap/sung collaboration. Rapper 21 Savage, one of the collaborators on the track, was unable to attend the ceremony because he is being detained by US officials over an expired visa. The British-born, Atlanta-based performer was also nominated for two awards in his own right.