Childish Gambino hits hard with new album

From his 2011 debut, Childish Gambino has continued to demonstrate his vast creative talents.

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His debut in 2011 delivered pop reflection on ourselves and the sensibility of meaningful music. Childish Gambino returns with funk and pushes the hip-hop limits. Screenwriter of the popular show “Atlanta,” Donald Glover proves himself to be an ever-evolving writer through his third album, “Awaken, My Love!”.

“Awaken, My Love!” bumps like a 70s disco ball. Gambino debuted his project this past September in a series of shows during his Pharos Music Festival in Joshua Tree, Calif. The album features musical influences from long-time collaborator Ludwig Goransson. As the album moves across intense sounds and gospel-influenced blues, the six-minute opening track “Me and Your Mama,” invites us into a new world.

Childish Gambino’s heavy funk rock intensifies the metaphor of what the “Boogieman” really means to the people of color in America. The third track illustrates what racial fear and police brutality looks like when we put trust into our country, and our appearance alone is a target. Gambino resounds critical views of the police in lines “With a gun in your hand / I’m the boogieman / I’m gonna come and get you.” Racial divide is evident, and police force is still brutal. As many artists have done this year, the protest has always been ours. Music continues to serve as a platform that can communicate much greater than some of our most “prestigious” leaders. “Awaken, My Love!” is both a manifesto and a riot.

The fourth track, “Zombies,” features vocals from Karl Faux and explores what it means to have others try to bite off of your success. The song recognizes that a most prized possession is your ability to think and create for yourself.

An electronic kick and faint synthesizer opens one of the best tracks on the album, “Redbone.” The song offers a throwback feel, using slap bass in the music that remains static, but still captivating. As the song refers vaguely to light-skinned women, the song’s gospel choir fills to a satisfying conclusion, reminiscent to the sounds that Prince pioneered, mastered and popularized during his time.

“California” is a classic upbeat tempo song about women, the beach, marijuana and the carefree West Coast life. As Gambino serenades a girl moving to the Golden State on a hypnotic calypso beat, his timing adds levels and layers to the idea of love and infatuation.

A new chapter is opened in “Baby Boy.” Using a 70s influence, the song takes us into the difficulty of sustaining relationships. Here, Gambino addresses his son, his struggles with being a father, and creating both the relationship for both him and his son, as well as Gambino and the mother of his child. “The Night Me and Your Mama Met” follows up “Baby Boy,” and we are spirited away on a journey to a momentous occasion.

As Childish Gambino remakes and finds funk throughout “Awaken, My Love!”, we are given reassuring advice in “Stand Tall,” to continue believing in our dreams and creating happiness in times of hardships. It may be difficult to pinpoint where Childish Gambino and Donald Glover meet or merge, but ultimately the heavy soul and musical experience of this album is evidence that Gambino is far from over.

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