New York artist Jase Harley was thrown into the middle of a plagiarism debate this week when a Reddit user noticed similarities between his song “American Pharaoh” and Childish Gambino’s megahit “This Is America.”
But the lesser-known rapper urged his fans to stay focused on the message both artists were making with their respective pieces, rather than on the plagiarism accusation.
“PLEASE DON’T let this controversy dilute the message me and @childishgambino are trying to convey,” Harley wrote in an Instagram message posted Monday.
“We are speaking about injustices we’ve encountered and he’s helped to provide a platform for all our voices to be heard,” he added. “Let’s not discredit him for that! The focus should be on affecting change in our communities and building equality. This is bigger than me and him and bigger than music. Let’s not lose focus.”
While acknowledging that he felt “This Is America” was influenced by his 2016 song, he reiterated his message to fans on Tuesday, once again emphasizing that there are bigger issues deserving their attention.
“I appreciate all the new fans and supporters,” Harley wrote on Instagram. “I’m here to affect change, there’s so many bigger issues facing us at this time. Thanks.”
Childish Gambino, also known as Donald Glover, has not responded to the accusation of plagiarism, though his creative partner Fam Rothstein hit back against the claim in a since-deleted tweet, writing, “This song is 3 yrs old, and we have Pro Tools files to prove it.”
“This Is America” took the internet by storm last month, with its music video’s haunting imagery going viral and the song debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.