You probably know him as Childish Gambino, or Donald Glover, or just simply as the super talented, avant-garde mastermind that is. Mr. Glover wears many hats when it comes to entertaining; in the last 5 years alone he has been highly successful by the way of acting, rapping, writing, and performing stand-up. His latest pursuit though, besides his creatively brilliant new hit TV show, Atlanta, a super hip, (no pun intended), look at the lives African-America hip-hop artists in Atlanta; is his new album.
“Mr. Glover wears many hats when it comes to entertaining”
The Gambino outfit has been quiet in the past couple of years. After the release of Because the Internet in 2013, Donald Glover retired from his social media and essentially disappeared, only doing a handful of interviews and shows in that time. But, he’s back, and not in the Cornelius Fudge/Voldemort kinda way, this time he’s gone retro. After hinting at the album cover in episode 9 of Atlanta, and wearing the cover on a shirt, in a recent interview, he’s dropped his album. And, gosh, is it something.
Awaken, my love! Is the third studio album under the guise of Childish Gambino, and possibly inspired by the birth of his son; and it sounds like something directly from the cosmos.
“He’s gone retro”
But, this ain’t your classic hip-hop album, no, expect something different, something new, and something funky. Because, that’s what this album is, funky. And, yes, this is an outstandingly different genre to Gambino’s other works, but it does it so so elegantly, honing the perfect mix of 70’s funk, electronic pop, R&B, and rock.
The one repetitive sentiment I’ve heard from my friends has been that it’s ‘grown on them,’ and is the perfect phrase to describe the album; each listen brings a deeper understanding of this far-more-adult and mature work than we’re used to.
The album plays out slowly after the funk odyssey that is ‘Me and Your Momma’, a notable harbinger of things to come. Three solid Funkadelic inspired hits follow this, ending with ‘Zombies’ and it’s oh-so-smooth guitar riff outro that screams sex appeal.
“It sounds like something directly from the cosmos”
The feels are almost too separated by the interlude ‘Riot’ and its counterpart ‘Redbone’: a breathtakingly slow jam. ‘California’ comes next, a rather ill placed, Jamaican styled, rhythm: improving Mr. Glover’s already fantastic range.
‘Terrified’ and ‘Baby Boy’ are two tracks that fill me with profound confidence that this new record is for his new son. Cries of ‘please don’t take him away’ on the chorus of ‘Baby Boy’ show the unrequited love that Donald holds for his child.
The final track, ‘Stand Tall’, is perfect end to this creatively vibrant and eclectic album. We learn the final lesson Donald holds for all of us, why he was away for so long, and how we can possess the ability to live a meaningful existence.
“honing the perfect mix of 70’s funk, electronic pop, R&B, and rock”
Throughout its slight faults, odd juxtapositions, and lack of brilliantly witty writing, there is a journey of voices rejoicing that Gambino is back; back with 101 more feelings, thought, and precision then we thought was possible. If this is his last album, I just wish he didn’t end it so abruptly.
So there we have it, Awaken, my love!: Gambino’s divine, perfectly crafted, psychotherapeutic waves of pure genius. This may be his last work, so listen to it on repeat, because my god is it beautiful musical gold that grows with every note. Because, if you ever find yourself in some kind of way, I promise you that there is an infinite number of listens that will give you a profound sense of peace and joy.
By Johnny Hastings & Alex Hammond