Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino in the music community, released his newest album, Awaken, My Love, on December 2, 2016. Glover is an exceptionally talented individual, acting in five seasons of NBC’s Community, as well as performing a stand-up special on Comedy Central in 2010. He is also starring, writing, and producing the FX show Atlanta, and is currently cast as Lando Calrissian in the 2018 Untitled Star Wars spin-off production.
Gambino is one of the most dynamic young dynamos in modern day United States. He can appeal to any audience, from the crowds of a comedy show to hip hop fans around the world. Similar to a variety of other modern R&B and Hip Hop artists, Gambino shows a duality in style, at times showing a deep contemplative nature, such as in “3005” (Because the Internet) and at others putting forth a harder, typical rapper persona, as in “Bonfire” (CAMP).
Under his hip-hop alter ego, Gambino has previously released albums such as Culdesac, Camp, Because the Internet, and Kauai. These projects received an enthusiastic reception from the music world, turning heads of critics and music labels. Since the release of his most recent album, Because the Internet, fans of creative lyricism and realism have anxiously awaited a new release. In keeping with many other artists that will release music in December 2016, such as J. Cole and Tech N9ne, Gambino delivers.
Awaken, My Love is truly a musical masterpiece. Unlike many other tracks and albums that have been released recently, this collection produces a rather haunting tracklist, with songs such as “Redbone” and “Me and Your Mama.”
A blended mixture of wind, piano, and drums develops a classical R&B feel. Gambino demonstrates an extensive range of vocals, something rarely seen. Some songs provide a completely unique experience, such as the aforementioned “Me and Your Mama.” The six minute, nineteen second love ballad, with lines such as “You know that I love you, so let me into your heart,” appeals to those who have had their hearts broken, asking them to open themselves up to love. Songs such as “Stand Tall” provide a raw translation of Gambino, with little to no vocal altercation, no disguise on his message: keep your dreams alive, no matter how much people try to tear you down.
This album marks a series of recently released projects by popular artists such as Frank Ocean (Blonde, August 20th, 2016) that are essentially declarations of solidarity. Awaken, My Love is a complex creation that has an underlying rebellious tone, as if Gambino is standing defiantly to the world of naysayers who try to pin him into a box, say what his style is, and dictate what he can and cannot do. He shines above the limitations that critics see, and by doing so, unconsciously shows others that they can do the same.
Photo Credits: Glassnote Records