What does the end of summer feel like to you? Does it elicit emotions of sadness related to the loss of freedom and the onset of responsibilities? Or do the emotions you feel make you happy, as you look back with nostalgia on the good memories that you felt over the summer months? It is quite possibly a mix of both, because life is not solely made up of dichotomies. In actuality, the end of produces of mixed bag of feelings, a homogenous mixture of emotions that will stick with us for the rest of the year, even the rest of your life. That mix is truly one of the most beautiful things.
When someone is able to convey these emotions at the same time, perfectly encapsulating how the ending of summer looks like and feels, it hits you like a brick. It bores right into your soul, grabbing your innermost flashbulb memories about summer and bringing them to the forefront. That is what Childish Gambino achieved with the “Feels Like Summer” video. Gambino, who previously attempted to make a “‘We Are the World,’ but with rappers” with “This is America,” stocked this video full of cameos that would put the 2013 classic movie, ‘This is the End,’ to shame.
In the first video from the his Summer Pack, Gambino made the effort not only saturate the visuals with cartoons of some of the most prominent figures in rap, R&B, and pop culture today, but he also took the opportunity pay homage to legends and respects to those who have passed away. It played out like a familiar dream in the back of our minds, bringing out feelings of summer that had been pushed deep back into our subconscious due to the its ending.
The video starts instantly, with blinds opening to show a cartoon version of Gambino strolling down a neighborhood street at sunset, adorning a tattered shirt and jacket and headphones. Already, the setting of the sunset created a beautiful scene, as the entire surrounding is flooded with muted shades of pink, yellow, and orange. The usage of the sunset most likely signifies the ending of summer, winding down the most relaxing time of the year. It creates a soothing atmosphere, but it also accompanied by bittersweet feelings. The song itself lends itself to the creation of this atmosphere, due to Gambino’s falsetto voice and the overlaying of multiple pitches over each other.
As cartoon Gambino continues to walk down the street, we are treated to an endless number of cameos that tell a story and represent the different activities that people could be doing during the summer. Here is the full list of appearances that we got from this video:
- A teenage Lil Pump and Trippie Redd running throughout the neighborhood.
- 21 Savage and Metro Boomin’ smoking in a car.
- Kodak Black telling Lil Pump and Trippie Redd that he can’t come outside because he’s grounded.
- Migos playing basketball in the driveway.
- Birdman grilling.
- Jaden Smith showing Chance the Rapper some dance moves.
- Will Smith washing his car.
- Azealia Banks sitting in a tree.
- Nicki Minaj building a toy house and Travis Scott pulling a brick out and destroying the house.
- The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, and Frank Ocean playing Tug of War against A$AP Rocky, Solange, and Willow Smith.
- Soulja Boy telling Lil Pump and Trippie Redd a story.
- Future stealing Drake’s bike.
- Kid Cudi against a dark background.
- Kanye crying in a MAGA hat and Michelle Obama coming to comfort him.
- Beyoncé in a R.I.P. Fredo Santana shirt.
- Oprah and Tiffany Haddish doing Lil Uzi Vert and Kehlani’s hair.
- Lil Yachty and Charlamagne tha God eating ice cream.
- Gucci Mane soaking up some sun rays.
- Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Diddy, Wiz Khalifa, and Jay-Z doing the electric slide
- The three Ball brothers and Young Thug playing video games
- Meek Mill, Pusha T, and Lil Wayne getting their picture taken by 2Chainz.
- Rae Sremmurd spraying them, and J-Cole with water.
- Janelle Monaé and SZA skateboarding into the distance.
- Chris Brown with his head in his hands.
- Outkast against the black background.
- Whitney Houston.
- Michael Jackson.
Yeah. It’s a lot. Each appearance in the neighborhood (Cudi, Kanye and Michelle, Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Outkast, Rihanna, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson did not appear in the neighborhood, but against the black background) felt familiar. It was as if you’d known these figures for your entire life, as if they were, well, your neighbors. People you grew up around, people who have been a part of your development. For most of the people who have listened to rap music for the past 10-15 years, this is true. We’ve become adults to the tune of every rapper and R&B singer that appeared in the video, making them some of the most prominent figures in our entire lifetime. It felt like a celebration of their existence. Gambino did a perfect job placing them in relatable situations, creating an amazing concept.
For those that appeared against the black background, a more melancholy mood was present. The timing of the appearance of the black background and those who appear against it is the most important aspect. When the pre-chorus hits, cartoon Gambino closes his eyes and fades into the background with these words being sung:
Immediately after that, Kid Cudi, whose battle with depression has been widely known, appears against the background, looking downtrodden and saddened. Then, in a flash, Kanye appears with tears streaming down his face, adorned his limited edition MAGA hat, and Michelle Obama, appears to comfort him. Then, as soon as they appeared, they are replaced with Beyoncé paying homage to Fredo Santana. The next time the pre-chorus came up again, Chris Brown showed up with his head in his hands, and then was replaced by the revolving duo of Outkast. Rihanna soon appeared, followed by Whitney Houston. The last image we saw was a young Michael Jackson, like afro, Black Michael Jackson, looking cheerful and carefree. But, in almost fitting fashion, he too quickly disappeared.
These images are a stark contrast to the happy, bright representations that appeared throughout the neighborhood. They were used to elicit emotions of wistful remembrance. We miss the simpler times of when our heroes were present or alive, when they didn’t abandon their community, break-up, or spiral and burn their public self image. We miss those who have left us, we worry for those who are struggling with mental health issues, we just want things to go back to when everything was alright. But as Gambino says during the pre-chorus, we continue to hope that things will change, but signs point to them not changing.