This is America

by Childish Gambino • Lesson #152 • May 8, 2018

Video lesson

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Overview

The tabs below show an easy, simplified, accessible version of the acoustic riff you hear in this song. I’m not pretending this is “exactly” how it’s played in the actual song - but it’s close enough, and I think quite beginner friendly compared to what is actually being played.

Simplified riff, variation 1 of 2

E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B |––––––––1–––––––––1–––––––3p1–––––|––––––––––––––––––––––––––1––––––––|–
G |––––––2–––––2–––––––2–––––––––2–––|––––––––3–––––––––3–––––––––––0––––|–
D |––3–––––––––––3–––––––3–––––––––––|––––––2–––––2–––––––2––––––––––––––|–
A |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––3–––––––––––3–––––––3––––––––––––|–
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
     F                                  C7

Simplified riff, variation 2 of 2

E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B |––––––––1–––––––––1–––––––3p1–––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
G |––––––2–––––2–––––––2–––––––––2–––|––––––––3–––––––––3–––––––5––––0–––|–
D |––3–––––––––––3–––––––3–––––––––––|––––––5–––––5–––––––5––––––––––––––|–
A |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––3–––––––––––3–––––––3––––––––––––|–
E |––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
     F                                  C7

Understanding chord shapes

No matter which of the two variations you’re playing (above), understand that it’s ideal to position your left hand into the chord shapes below. I show both C7 variations here - use the first position for variation 1 (easier), and the second position for variation 2 (a bit tougher because you’re barring part of the 3rd string).

E –––––––––––––––––––––
B –––1–––––1–––––5–––––
G –––2–––––3–––––3–––––
D –––3–––––2–––––5–––––
A –––––––––3–––––3–––––
E –––––––––––––––––––––
     F     C7    C7   

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I sincerely hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to let me know.

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