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.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Beyonce wearing that R.I.P. Fredo Santana shirt was pretty dope. Snoop Dogg, Diddy and Dr. Dre dancing together was a cool moment. 2 Chains taking a pic of Meek Mill, Lil Wayne and Pusha T was a dope shot. Opra Winfrey and Tiffany Hadish braiding hair together was dope. The last two shots of a young Witney Houston and a young Michael Jackson was the prefect closer and most emotional scenes to this video. Excellent work of different people together in peace. #2ThumbsUp

  2. Frankly I thought that was Nelson Mandela and the IceCream melting together showed how the blacks and white came together.

  3. Anyone think that the global warming vibe is in reference to the heat going on in the industry? That melted X? Just a thought….

  4. Why did people think the ice cream was X? Even if it had chocolate and vanilla put together, how would that even be a theory? It sounds completely desperate to come up with.😕

  5. I think what he was trying to say was that people will spend their time counting the rappers but completely ignore actual problems in the world.

  6. Y'all didn't really break down the meanings like the title says, this was more about the process than the meanings. You really only did the Travis and Nicki breakdown. Pretty clickbaity..

  7. first time i saw the video i thought shannon sharpe was MLK and the ice cream melting next to him symbolized how he helped end segregation (I guess that's a reach now lol) and I thought the girl getting her hair did by tiffany haddish was kylie jenner but it makes sense that it's not her because everybody else in the video is black

  8. I think it wasn’t x I think it was white people and black peoples cultures mixing together or it could just mean ya know globle warming and heat

  9. The ice cream is NOT xxxtentacion. It’s Martin Luther King jr and the ice cream represents the idea that his dream of white and black people living in harmony didn’t happen at all in 2018. That’s why he’s sad on the bench.

  10. Its crazy how my Original comment breakdown on the actual music video blew up and was copy and pasted for everyone else to take credit smh lol
    The only person I got wrong was Shannon Sharpe

  11. I don't know about all that other stuff but all I know is the girl who did the interview is beautiful❤❤.

  12. I think the “global warming” message is a subliminal analogy towards the next world war tension. Listen to the lyrics.💯

  13. What I need to know is why are some of these characters so light skinned than their actual counterparts? SZA is a dark skin woman. And why does Rihanna look like Tessa Thompson?

  14. But also I think you missed the part on mental illness in our community. The first daydream sequence shoes Cudi and Kanye— both notorious and open with their mental health struggles yet featured somewhat in the shadows of the video.

  15. I think the him and the ones who are fading to black are somewhat witnessing the dark cold days ahead of us. Sheesh

  16. Ok I’m just gonna put this out here and you’re free to argue all you want I’ll do the same if I have to. Even tho this woman said the ice cream wasn’t X that doesn’t confirm it wasn’t him. Either the artist were shown a pic of X’s blue hair from when he died and assumed it wasn’t him because they could’ve made that carless mistake. Or the lady in the video or the writers for this video just decided to debunk something without even doing their fair share of research. I just wanna point out that X’s og hair color combination just so happens to represent the colors of two main ice cream flavors (chocolate and vanilla) and so it would make sense when the camera zooms in on the ice cream because the ice cream didn’t have to be zoomed in on to show it melting you could’ve seen that from a far but the fact they zoomed in on it clearly shows that they WANTED you to see X’s old hair reference. And the melting to show global warming could’ve also symbolized X’s passing which is just perfect so it makes sense that they would put him as a ice cream for this scene it’s just way to perfect to not be him lol. And for all of you saying X’s hair was blue when he passed just please sit here for a minute and imagine the guy in the video eating BLUE ice cream 💀 I mean I know it exists but come on. There’s also the fact the ice cream melted into a form that looked like X’s dreads so it LOOKS like his actual og hair and I’m sorry to tell you but they aren’t gonna slap blue hair braids on ice cream 💀 LMAO and maybe that’s why they put his original hair and maybe also the fact that if they put his og hair then people would know who it was considering that’s the hairstyle he had when he blew up and so it would be certain that people would know it was him. And I know some of you out there like to deny it just because of what some random lady said without even having the proof to back it up. And no it can’t just be a coincidence you actually have to take what I said into consideration because it makes sense.

  17. I don’t know how to feel. I never paid attention to the lyrics but also didn’t pay attention to the video. I just enjoyed the song

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