Hidden Meanings Behind Childish Gambino’s ‘Feels Like Summer,’ Explained By Its Animators

Hidden Meanings Behind Childish Gambino’s ‘Feels Like Summer,’ Explained By Its Animators


– When Childish Gambino
released the music video for “Feels Like Summer,” it
almost immediately hit the top of every trending page. The visuals show a cartoon
Gambino strolling down the street on a hazy summer day. Throughout the neighborhood,
63 different black artists and figureheads are in typical,
summer-related scenarios. Everyone on Twitter gave their thoughts on the different meanings
behind the video. We spoke with character
designer Justin Richburg and co-director Ivan Dixon to
see how it all came together. – [Justin] Part of my thing
is to make sure I capture everything as crystal clear as possible. – [Alana] Justin Richburg is an artist known for putting well-known
figures in unlikely and many times controversial scenarios. His black history month
piece, “Dice Games,” went viral and created
quite the reaction online. It also grabbed Gambino’s attention, so much so that he put
the piece in an episode of his show, “Atlanta.” – Like a week or so
later, after, you know, I quit my job, I made
the dice game picture and then it happened just
like that, that quickly. – So for that particular
photo that did go viral, you do, you know, create some
controversial stuff sometimes. – Yeah I mean that’s on
purpose, because, you know, a lot of times when I talk
in regular life, you know, I offend people real easily. Might as well just put it in my artwork. – [Alana] How long did it
take, from start to finish, to sketch out 63 different celebrities? – [Justin] I think two months, maybe. – [Alana] Richburg did
say he wished he had a little more time perfecting
some of the characters, including Whitney Houston’s curls. – With my style, doing
that type of curly hair is kinda difficult, like
you trying to keep it simple for the animators to copy. They kept on starting
over and over and over, and then like I’m trying
to get her eyes correct and all that, at the same
time trying to keep it simple as possible for them, you
know, to be able to mimic. – [Alana] Once the character
designs were created, the animation team then
began storyboarding based on Gambino’s instructions. – [Ivan] It’s a celebration of culture. Finished the video on the
Friday before it launched and we, that was like I was
compositing shots that day. So we never even got a
chance to watch it back, and do quality control, you know, we just delivered the
thing and it went live. So Donald already had a
pretty extensive brief. We were tasked with interpreting
the bullet-point brief into a storyboard. Justin designed 60-plus characters. – [Justin] I told them they
should do it like a “Bebe Kids” type of background, I
didn’t wanna like, step over my boundaries, you know, I just
wanted to let you do enough and then let them do
what they needed to do. – [Alana] Gambino took
Ivan and the animation team through Atlanta’s streets to get a feel of how the visuals should look. – We used Google Maps and
wandered the streets of Atlanta, trying to get, absorb as
much of the scant knowledge as we could. – [Ivan] Lyrically, my
interpretation of the song is that it’s about global
warming and climate change. – That informed the color
choices of the background. Donald was pretty clear
he wanted it to feel hazy and polluted. Donald dictated the order of events. We only deviated a couple of
times for staging reasons, but he’d already paired up all
the people with each other. – While Dixon did say that
many of the situations that were storyboarded
were sheer coincidence, Gambino did get the final
say on the finished piece. And a couple of situations
definitely stood out, like the scene where
Travis Scott knocks down Nicki Minaj’s blocks. Many have interpreted this
scene to be about Scott knocking Nicki out of the top spot of the Billboard 100 charts, and how Nicki was not here for it. – He didn’t have the number one album, “Queen” was the number one album. – [Ivan] It takes a couple of weeks for it to be storyboarded,
designed, and animated, and we had already done
that before any of this latest conflict happened. Yeah, call it a premonition. Originally, the brief, I think it said they were playing Jenga,
but we had to drop that for legal reasons. Donald had indicated that he
wanted some of the characters to appear against a black
background during the chorus, we decided we’d have Donald
close his eyes and stop walking. I can’t speak to his
decision for who appeared in that section, but we definitely knew there was like a somber kind of vibe, everyone had their eyes closed. – [Alana] Dixon and Richburg both say that there are a few
characters people online keep mixing up, and no, this isn’t XXX. Did you catch any references
we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe.

8 thoughts on “Hidden Meanings Behind Childish Gambino’s ‘Feels Like Summer,’ Explained By Its Animators

  1. Vlad tv said that they recreated the interview he had with Soulja boy that went viral in this video. I didn't see it unless it was when Soulja was throwing his arms around and seemed like he was saying something.

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