Album Review: Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

By Cailynn Beck, Contributor

[Glassnote; 2016]

Rating: 6.5/10

Key Tracks: “Me and Your Mama,” “Riot,” “Redbone”

There’s no lying when it is said that Donald Glover has a striking presence as a musician and a screenwriter. With Atlanta coming out this year and singles such as “Me and Your Mama” and “Redbone” being released,Childish Gambino fans couldn’t get enough. 2016 is a year of Gambino exploring his creative paths, furthering his talents in writing and lyricism, and his third record, Awaken, My Love!, is only proof of that.

“Me and Your Mama” is quite an introductory track to this album, having the ability to throw many fans and listeners off. This track is entirely different from songs on previous records like Camp and Because The Internet. Gambino fascinates his audience with a wildly impressive Prince-like falsetto, a magical choir and a shredding guitar. This introduces the production on this record, which is absolutely phenomenal.

Funk plays a consistent role throughout Gambino’s release, shocking the audience as he throws away his rap delivery completely. Tracks like “Have Some Love” and “Redbone” execute this funk-soul genre perfectly, as well as strengthening his lyrical talents since past albums. Many of these tracks carry a meaning and a theme parallel to Atlanta, like love, fear and passion. Simple lyrics of fear are carried in the track titled “Riot,” saying “This pressure brewing / This world don’t feel alright,” and “No good fighting / World, we’re out of captains / Everyone just wants a better life / They tried to kill us.”

Lots of praise is held for Awaken, My Love!, as this album is definitely Gambino’s best, but many tracks still need work. Aside from tracks previously stated, several songs from Awaken, My Love! sound like filler tracks that are almost too heavily influenced by other artists to the point of mimicry. Gambino continues to assimilate some of his goofiness and humor from his Donald Glover personality in songs like “Zombies” and “Boogieman,” while also trying to express a higher meaning in them, but the execution isn’t present, especially when comparing those tracks to “Riot.”

It’s fascinating watching Childish Gambino continue to explore and to continue making greater and more powerful works. It’s better watching him deliver a message with a great production so heavily influenced by others than to deliver a whole new creation and failing at it completely. After a project like Awaken, My Love!, many of Gambino’s fans are sure to be curious as to see what’s next.

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