“Awaken, My Love” Impresses with Fresh Beats



Childish Gambino performing at Lollapalloza 2014.

By Sarah O'Brien, Arts Editor

Donald Glover, or Childish Gambino’s latest album, “Awaken, My Love!” draws from an interesting collection of soul and R&B grooves to create a cohesive sound that differs greatly from Donald Glover’s earlier work.

In previous albums, Glover has focused on a flat rapping style with modern beats, but he has recently altered his sound and has jumped head first into a more retro 1970s funk vibe. He hinted to this transformation in his mixtape in 2014, “STN MTN,” which really only dipped into his soul interest.

The album starts off with a long intro from the first single “Me and Your Mama,” filled with soulful backup singers and a piercing guitar lead and grand drum riff about halfway in that is a great introduction to the new genre Glover plays with. The song is definitely the most raw and passionate on the album with screams and a louder set of vocals.

The next song on the album is “Have Some Love,” which is epitome of soul music with it’s bouncy lyrics and heavy backing vocals. This song brings out Glover’s musical inspiration from Parliament Funkadelic in the 1970s. The entire album plays with the P-funk idea created by Parliament Funkadelic head George Clinton which is the distinct style of funk that they played.

Along with this song, songs “The Night Me and Your Mama Met” and “Stand Tall” draw from the similar soulful backup singer sound to create the nostalgic feel.

Third song “Boogieman” is the child of the darker elements of funk music, with his ironic take on police brutality.

Next, we have the extremely sexy guitar riff from “Zombies,” which sounds like something Prince could have written and produced.

The Prince-esque beats and singing style is continued onto the second single off the album, “Redbone.” Glover’s high falsetto voice takes the song to a level of sensuality. The song is all around groovy with a strong surge of power through the bass and sexy vocals.

Fast-paced “Riot” takes a chaotic route with a light and airy guitar riff that gives the album a fun, happy bouncy song that continues the funky narrative he goes for throughout the entire album.

“California” has a heavy bassline that choppy and bouncy vocals make a catchy, beachy tune. Although a fun take on his newfound style of music, it feels a little out of place with the other Prince and Funkadelic-esque sounds of the other songs.

Another song with a heavy bassline is “Baby Boy,” but it takes a more serious note, as it is a direct letter to Glover’s son discussing his anxieties as a father and the failing relationship between him and his son’s mother. Lyrics such as “Don’t take me baby boy, don’t take my pride and joy” show his conviction and authenticity in the songwriting of the song. The song leads straight into “The Night Me and Your Mama Met” which does not contain any vocals from Glover himself, rather there are soulful backup singers paired with a soft acoustic guitar. Towards the end, a haunting, beautiful guitar solo highlights the instrumental genius behind the album.

Even with the several authentic, sexy tracks featured on this album, “Terrified” is takes the cake with it’s sensuality. It’s intimacy through some soft whispers and tenor wooing creates a very appealing and slick song. Glover ends it with a feature from JD McCrary, a young singer reminiscent of a young Michael Jackson in the way his voice is seemingly genderless.

The eleven track album ends with the inspirational and sweet “Stand Tall.” The lyrics “Keep all your dreams, keep standing tall / If you are strong you cannot fall,” gives an uplifting message, which is a very cute way to end the album. The happy message ties the album together and keeps the listener coming back for more Childish Gambino.

Although not something typical or expected from Glover, he shocks his current fans with this funky fresh album, and gaining more fans from it. Throughout the entire album, he takes the concept of funk and brings a modern twist to it like other artists are doing at the moment. Similar to Bruno Mars’s latest album, “24K Magic,” both Mars and Gambino dip into the nostalgic, retro vibes and it is safe to predict a reawakening of this kind of funk tracks in the future of mainstream hip-hop.