Album Review: Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love”

#aotd is “Awaken, My Love” by Childish Gambino. What isn’t Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino good at? The man has had multiple successful ventures into the worlds of Hip-Hop and R&B as well as a slew of great acting roles on film and TV AND created his own sitcom success with “Atlanta”. While it is easy to pour praise upon the man for his endless creative prowess one must keep in mind the inconsistency of Childish Gambino’s output. Despite this, 2013’s “Because The Internet” brought some commendable highlights even with its over-ambitious scope. It seems Donald caught whiff of his shortcomings as a rapper as “Awaken, My Love” sees the total reinvention of Childish Gambino, from a rapper to a complete Soul performer. Yes, the Funk is strong with this album with Funkadelic, Parliament and Prince influences taking centre stage on all these tracks. The power of this album comes not only from Gambino’s own resounding vocal performances, but the excellent compositions throughout. Take the gargantuan opener “Me and Your Mama” which starts invitingly with brimming synth leads and backing vocals but quickly explodes into a thunderous guitar riff and choral vocals that send it into mania. Then there’s the song “Zombies” which leaks atmosphere from its smoke-swept guitar lines and Gambino’s own paranoid vocal delivery. Of course Gambino isn’t the originator of this sound and as such his influences probably shine a little too bright, overshadowing his own vision. Moments like the track “Redbone” are undeniably Gambino’s own though, dealing with infidelity the track features a gorgeous Prince-esque high-pitched vocal performance with smooth bass lines and an unshakeable hook. The album takes on some slight camp Horror themes as well with constant unsettling tension as well as ghoulish embellishments on tracks like “Boogieman”. Much like the films these themes are lifted from, Gambino uses them as a metaphor for the great oppressors in our society. “Awaken, My Love” may have been the most welcome musical surprise of 2016 as Childish Gambino seamlessly revives 70’s Funk and makes it look easy.
Rating: 4.1/5

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