Childish Gambino, also known as actor, comedian, and musician Donald Glover, released his third studio album, Awaken, My Love! earlier this month.
Awaken, My Love! is unmistakably a step away from Gambino’s previous musical style but it’s something I can well appreciate. Unlike the hip-hop-heavy sound of his previous releases, the record has a sharp funk and R&B mood. Expect a dose of fancy vocal work, sweet basslines, church pipes, choir chants, and intricate guitar leads from this release.
Me And Your Mama
One of the two lead singles of the album, this track establishes the sound and feel of the record. It starts off with a sweet entrancing intro before it shoehorns the heavy bass of the track. It is an in-your-face power track with a hook that sends chills down your spine.
Have Some Love
Have Some Love is a very upbeat blues-y track. A hot and heavy love track, maybe? Lyrically, it is a bit creepy and is made more so with the breakdown. This song has one of my favorite beats and percussion fills in the album.
A call-to-mind about the very real issue that is racism. Simple, compared to the first two songs, but it is striking. With a gun in your hand, I’m the boogieman/I’m gonna come and get you.
I get a lot of indie vibes from this track because of its (kind of) lyrical vagueness. If that amazing funky wailing guitar doesn’t get you maybe Kari Faux’s eerie chorus will. We’re coming out to get you/We’re oh, so glad we met you/We’re eating you for profit/There’s no way to stop it.
Riot is an awkward step from Zombies. It’s loud and fast that is over as soon as it starts. I think it could have been placed better elsewhere in the record. Musically, I think it’s one layer too many. I guess the Funkadelic screams redeem it, maybe?
Redbone is the second lead single for the album and one of my favorite tracks. Sultry guitars, yes. Falsetto, hell yes. Soul, definitely. If the vocals doesn’t get you sweating at the end of this track, you have a serious problem. The lyrics are inspired. They remind me of Letter Home and L.E.S. from Gambino’s first studio album, Camp. I have had this track on repeat since its release in mid-November and even until now that the album is out.
Another favorite of mine. No other track is a more perfect fit to follow Redbone than this one. I feel like there is a connection between California and Redbone; like, how it follows the same heroine who’s just trying to get her life straight.
It’s not hard to appreciate Gambino’s vocal ingenuity in this track especially at that breakdown, which is backed by a sick guitar solo. Sure it’s short, but it’s hella satisfying.
Baby Boy is a song to his newborn child. Though it also somehow hints at racial issues, this slow jam is a bittersweet love letter to a child to a father in crisis with himself and the world. It has one of the best basslines in the record.
The Night Me And Your Mama Met
This is what you play when you take your girl to Makeout Point. Though instrumental, it holds its own well among the other numbers.
Stand Tall is one of the more poetic tracks in the record. Though it still has that funk vibe to it, it’s not as blunt without being too plain. That chant breakdown is something to look forward to. Give me morning/When you’re gone to yourself.
Everybody’s calling Awaken, My Love! a more mature Gambino. They say the lyrics are deeper and more meaningful. However, I think that his previous material were just as intelligent and substantial it was just harder to read in between his witty and playful lines.
Overall, I enjoyed the record. It was fun seeing Childish Gambino take a different step with his material. Follow Donald Glover on Facebook, if you don’t already. Also, here’s a live version of Redbone.