CHILDISH GAMBINO'S "AWAKEN, MY LOVE" ALBUM REVIEW

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                              Genre: R&B, Funk, Neo-Soul

                                                                                                             Tracklist:
                                                        1.    Me And Your Mama                                          7. California
                                                        2.    Have Some Love                                              8. Terrified
                                                        3.    Boogieman                                                      9. Baby Boy
                                                        4.    Zombies                                                          10. The Night Me And Your Mama Met
                                                        5.    Riot                                                                  11. Stand Tall                                                                                                        6. Redbone

Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) continues to impress the world whether it be through his music projects or his new television show "Atlanta". With two Golden Globes under his belt and an upcoming role in a Star Wars movie we can only assume that he is sticking around for a while. "Awaken, My Love" is a curve ball. Thrown from third base. I'm not sure if many people expected a funk/soul album from Bino considering that his last two studio albums were rap centric. This is quite the project from Glover and it will have you bouncing around throughout.

Me And Your Mama starts off the album with some pretty choir-like vocals on top of eerie production that leads into a hard-hitting funktastic composition. We experience Gambino's vocals for the first time and damn, he is singing his heart out. A narcotic fueled love song followed by the come down makes this intro track a definite high point in the album. From there we get even funkier with the track Have Some Love. A call to arms for everyone to start caring for each other more. In light of 2016 we see that maybe there wasn't as much love to go around and Gambino wants a change. Boogieman resonates on that feeling that we need more love, especially between black communities and the police. The vocal effects on this track are a little out there but Bino brings us back with a solid chorus over some funky bass. By the time we get through the song Zombies I feel like we have come to accept this new version of Bino. This song is one of my favourites of this album. I love the vocals, the message about how others "feed" off of your success when you are in the limelight, and the production is very well done. Things get a little hairy in Riot with extremely aggressive guitar and percussion as well as nearly screaming vocals. Truly a powerful song with impeccable harmonies in the chorus. We hear Childish Gambino asking for someone to take the lead in the latest of riots to help control the situation and target the efforts correctly. The chart rising Redbone is another love song however, the love could be short lived. The light skinned black woman that is making Gambino wait for her isn't aware of the other guys creeping around looking for her love. With some heavy bass and playful guitar we get one of the best produced tracks on "Awaken, My Love". This creates a strong Neo-Soul feel that reminds me a lot of Erykah Badu's latest projects.

So, according to Gambino if you want to get "social media famous" moving to "California" might not be the way. With the death of Vine we see this girl he is singing about having a hard time producing meaningful content for Instagram's one minute time stamp for videos. This is a fun track with a wacky premise but we get this beachy feel that takes me to the new trends created by Lil Yachty's "Lil Boat". I think that Terrified is a response to the last track. California had that trendy sound and we see Gambino calling out those trend setters. He claims that this influx of new young rappers has him on edge, driving him to try different things before he realizes that it is actually the new guys who are terrified of the legacy artists at the top of their games right now while trying to catch up. In early 2016 Donald had a child and it was reveled this month to be a boy. The next song Baby Boy is a beautiful soul song about this newborn and Donald's worries of trying to keep a respectable relationship with the child's mother. He apologizes to the mother and pleads her to not take his child away from him. This emotion filled song really tells me that he is excited for this new journey in his life and that he truly loves this new child of his. The Night Me And Your Mama Met is a nicely done instrumental that could be considered as a lullaby for his newborn. There is some captivating harmonies complimented with xylophone and passionate guitar. The closing song "Stand Tall" is a perfect, cheerful wind up to this project. It goes through many production changes, each one more interesting than the last. Gambino recalls something his mother and father told him and he wants to share it with the world. He says that even if things seem gloomy we still have to try and keep our head up, use our voice, and prevail over our troubles. 

"Awaken, My Love" is a spectacle compared to previous Childish Gambino productions. I believe that it closes up 2016 pleasently and prepares everyone to start making some changes in the new year. With this release we see a more self-aware Gambino which is a nice change compared to the "under-rated oreo" of "Camp" and the "poor rich boy" from the album "Because The Internet". It's a very amicable change and I hope that he continues down this path of mixing genres and trying new things. I will always listen to a project from Bino and I am excited for everything he has in store for us.

6.5/10 Good

Julian Rioux