Review: ‘Awaken, My Love’


Courtesy of Glassnote Entertainment Group

“Awaken, My Love”, the third album by Childish Gambino, was released on Dec. 2. It features music reminiscent of ‘70s funk and soul, which is a change from his past two albums.

Brett Starkopf, Editor-in-Chief

Is there an entertainer who’s having a better year than Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino?

First, his television show, “Atlanta,” was critically acclaimed. Then Glover was cast as Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo project. And finally, Gambino’s third album, “Awaken, My Love” which was released on Dec. 2, is another testament as to why he is one of the most talented entertainers in the business.

The two singles are the most impressive songs off the album.

The first single, “Me and Your Mama” features deep bass and synthesizer blanketed by a chorus. It provides a calming, cooling mood before Gambino enters, accompanied by a gospel, sets the tone for the album. Unfortunately, the rest of “Awaken, My Love” doesn’t quite reach the same intensity as “Me and Your Mama” but still provides a uniqueness that is not seen regularly in hip-hop.

“Redbone,” the album’s second single, features what sounds like a Bootsy Collins sample behind a Prince-like falsetto during the chorus in which Gambino preaches all to “stay woke.”

In what could be construed as a sample of the  Sly and the Family Stone’s song “Just like Baby,” Gambino shows his more soulful side with “Baby Boy.” By slowing down the Sly Stone song, Gambino demonstrates his talent as a soulful, rhythm and blues singer.  

What “Awaken, My Love” does do, however, is stay true to what Glover/Gambino represents: artistic expression.

While moving away from the sound that made Childish Gambino successful is a bold move, the risk paid off. The move is befitting when considering the success of “Atlanta,” which Glover described as “‘Twin Peaks’ with rappers.”

In early September, Childish Gambino hosted an exclusive concert at Joshua Tree in California where he performed songs from the album while donning glow-in-the-dark paint.

Pictures and a virtual reality video of “Me and Your Mama” are available on the android/iPhone app “Pharos Earth.” The album will also be available in virtual reality form.

While the album lacks the rapping and lyricism that defined Gambino’s sound on his first two albums, he makes up for it by paying homage to the ‘70s unique blend of funk, soul and pop reminiscent of Parliament Funkadelic, Kool and the Gang and Sly and the Family Stone.

“Awaken, My Love” successfully takes hip-hop back to its roots where other artists have failed.