With two albums and plenty of mixtapes released, Childish Gambino, the artist known as actor Donald Glover, has proven himself to be a decent hip-hop artist. A writer on 30 Rock turned actor on Community and the hit drama Atlanta, Gambino is off his hiatus from acting to focus on his third album Awaken, My Love! (he actually rented a house where writers for Atlanta would work during the day and musicians would come in at night to work on the album).
From his debut album Camp to his Grammy nominated album Because The Internet and the success of his hit single “3005”, Awaken, My Love! is Outkast with 70’s funk and soul . It opens with “Me And Your Mama”, the first song Gambino released weeks ago. The opener will remind of a Pink Floyd track while the second track, Have Some Love, is a stand-in for Maggot Brains “Can You Get to That”
“Redbone”, the second song Gambino released last month, is a groovy beat that’s similar to Prince’s Purple Rain outro with the guitar part being separated into three parts. The themes of “Baby Boy” is an outtake from Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Going On. “Boogieman” and “Riot” are on the same level as Kool and the Gang with funk and a political tone to each song.
Gambino’s use of autotune in “California” and the closer “Stand Tall,” a paternal ode that never extends past its good intentions, are the only misfortunes on the album overall.
These heavy referenced song titles feel like tributes from various musicians Gambino was influenced by, but a guide to what these artists brought to the industry, building blocks. Gambino and longtime collaborator Ludwig Göransson fully immerse themselves in the past. While taking his previous albums with a timid melody or two, he fully commits to using his voice as an instrument on Awaken, My Love!
If we learned anything from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and untitled unmastered, it’s the funk and upbeat songs that gives an admiration for the hip-hop genre. Awaken, My Love! shows that Gambino is make strong strides as a performer and this is step forward for his music career.