By: Skyler Stanford
Like most people, I know Childish Gambino as a rapper so, when I played the first song, I was waiting for that classic hard-hitting beat that drums up your mood with suspense before he comes in a raps about girls, parties, and being famous.
Needless to say, I was extremely surprised when, instead, the song started with a soft, chime-like tune followed up with a small-sounding choir repeating a simple phase. Behind them, the beat intensifies until out of nowhere an electric guitar violently strums its way into your headphones and the song goes from soft lullaby to rock. The hook is loud and clear; “Let me into your heart.” It quickly becomes clear that this is a love song as you hear him passionately belting into the mic. You can feel the power of the instruments, his voice, and the lyrics. As they come together the listener gets a clear picture of his love.
Gambino, though he has been successful, has not received the best reviews for his past albums. Prior to listening to Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!”, I did not consider myself a fan. I knew him solely for his hit song “3005,” a bland rap song that didn’t get a lot of positive feedback from the hip-hop community, from the 2013 album Because the Internet. My knowledge of his past, private life, and career are non-existent but this album truly forced me to see him as a serious musician.
In every song on this album you can hear the experimentation behind the composition. iTunes describes it as “R&B/Soul” but, though both of those styles are incorporated in the album, they simply aren’t enough to describe it overall. Some songs were clearly inspired by funk, alternative, psychedelic, and rock music. One could even argue the song “California” has Latin influences.
It’s just one of those album in a category of its own, as exemplified by the first track, “Me and Your Mother,” in which Gambino captures pleasant inconsistency by transitioning from psychedelic to rock. One of my favorites and one of the bestselling songs on the album, “Redbone” leans towards funk with its head-bobbing catchiness that hooks listeners with good lyrics and skillful bass crescendo and decrescendo for emphasis.
If you are looking for a unique album, I assure you that Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!” will be unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Give this album a listen. You won’t regret it.