With political and racial polarization approaching an all-time high in the modern dis-United States of America, one of that country’s most iconic fast-food chains is reminding us that “We Have More in Common Than We Think.”

That’s the feel-good tag-line of a McDonald’s television commercial, which samples “The Only Difference,” a song recorded by Toronto’s Beatchild and The Slakadeliqs, that’s become the legendary mega-brand’s 2018-2019 core theme song. The groovy soul track, a CBC Music Top 20 hit co-written by Beatchild (aka Byram Joseph) and Toronto-based singer Justin Nozuka – who’s also featured on the song – appears on The Slakadeliqs’ 2018 album, Heavy Rockin’ Steady.

“The only difference between you and I is everything and nothing at all,” goes the singalong chorus, featured prominently in the commercial, which began airing in December of 2018 (as befits the holiday season that celebrates Peace on Earth).

A month prior, Beatchild received a message from Alec Stern, the Director of Music at Chicago-based advertising agency DDB Chicago, telling him that he had a big project, one in which he thought Beatchild would be interested. In an interview that appeared on the site Muse By Clio, Stern said he’d searched for a song for the commercial for weeks, “and by total chance, just Spotify worm-holing on the train, this song comes on and the lines are, ‘The only difference between you and I is everything and nothing at all.’

“I looked down, and it was ‘The Only Difference,’ by an artist I’d never heard of – Beatchild & The Slakadeliqs. It was like Columbus discovering America. Everyone was in love with it… It felt like the perfect marriage of audio and visual. I was so thrilled to work with an indie artist and give him this sort of platform.”

After getting the call with the big news, Beatchild (formerly Slakah the Beatchild) says, “as soon as I put the phone down, I started dancing. Pelvic thrusts! Everything! And when I saw the commercial, it felt surreal,” he adds, on the line from his East-Toronto studio.

“It’s reassuring to know that you can reach millions of people because your music touched one person the right way.” – Beatchild

Asked if McDonald’s requested any changes or revisions to “The Only Difference,” he says, “No, thank goodness! I’m all for collaborating, but not at the expense of my artistic integrity. I’m not willing to sacrifice my art.”

Beatchild says the idea for the song “came out of the sky,” and took him two years to develop. “I took my time with the verses,” the self-described perfectionist says. “I’m a big fan of re-writing, and adjusting accordingly. That whole process for me is the demo process, and the winning demo is the one that I put my energy into, and release.”

Beatchild, whose music has also graced commercials for KFC, Unilever, and the Just Dance videogame series, says he was “paid very well. It was six digits.” The buzz is slowly fading, says the producer and multi-instrumentalist, who’s worked with Drake, Jessie Reyez, and Shad, before they blew up. He’s currently focused on making new music.

Beatchild says the placement in the McDonald’s commercial hasn’t led to folks rushing to buy his albums, but adds that, “it’s reassuring for a musician like me, who isn’t on the Billboard charts, to know that you can reach millions of people because your music touched one person the right way.”