"Awaken, My Love!" by Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino pulls a 180 and makes a Hip-Hop influenced Funk/Soul album that is good as it is unexpected.

Childish Gambino
"Awaken, My Love!"

Glassnote
2016

Review

Childish Gambino is the musical alter ego of the talented Donald Glover. Up to this point, he's known for being a "Rap" artist. Though I've felt that some of his previous albums were a bit uneven, I did enjoy them quite a bit. So I was looking forward to more of the same or at least an evolution of what he's done before. So imagine my surprise when the man puts out a throwback Funk/Soul record!

Perhaps even more surprising is how good it is! You know you're on to something when George Clinton himself gives you his blessing via Twitter. The reaction to this album has been tremendous with people generally being surprised at how good it is. Is there anything that Donald Glover can't do?

(Sidenote: I'm excited to see him as young Lando Calrissian in that Starwars stand-alone movie)

The high point on this album is "Redbone". This song has been stuck in my head for weeks and I'm fairly certain that my family is tired of me playing it in the car.

In terms of the current trends with Soul/R&B/Hip-Hop, it feels like everything old is new again. I know that that phrase gets overused a lot but I really feel like the spirit of Hip-Hop that is reinvention has spread itself around music to the extent that pretty much every genre of music has become Hip-Hop. I don't mean that it terms of raps or samples either. I mean it more from the perspective of pulling in references from whatever else has come before. You have Bruno Mars bringing back that Pop-funk R&B from the 80's a la Debarge and now you have Donald Glover bringing back the funk. Look at what Anderson .Paak is doing right now too on that NxWorries record he just put out with Knxwledge that feels like 70's throwback. Look at Chance The Rapper's brilliant Gospel/Hip-Hop record "3". In a strange way, R&B has become the new Hip-Hop (shout out to Phonte for Foreign Exchange and that great album with Eric Robertson he put out last year as "Tigarello") and I'm all for it. I got burnt out on it in the 90s listening to too much 112 contemporaries, but now by embracing the throwback things are getting interesting again.

But back to Gambino. I've heard this album referred to as the perfect summertime family barbecue record and I think that is a description that fits it quite well. If you are at all interested in Funk music or classic R&B, then pick this one up.

3.909 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Me and Your Mama (06:19) 3
2. Have Some Love (03:44) 4
3. Boogieman (03:37) 3
4. Zombies (04:42) 5
5. Riot (02:05) 4
6. Redbone (05:27) 5
7. California (02:45) 4
8. Terrified (04:15) 5
9. Baby Boy (06:22) 4
10. The Night Me and Your Mama Met (03:34) 3
11. Stand Tall (06:11) 3