To say Childish Gambino, real name Donald Glover, is a man of many talents is an understatement. Having a fruitful career in US television and being cast for the new stand-alone Han Solo film, it’s a wonder he has any time to produce music. Nevertheless, we are graced with his third album “Awaken, My Love!” and a departure from the hip-hop sound he’s known for.
This is shown greatly in the first track Me and Your Mama; it swims daintily in an electronic backing track and harmonised vocals, before breaking into a funk explosion of guitar melodies as Gambino produces a wonderfully raw voice. The track is beautifully dark yet soulful and produced excellently with the crescendo descending gracefully and coming full circle back to the demure intro. Upon first listen it’s a bit of shock, but a pleasant one. The other single, Redbone, is of similar ilk merging soulful vocals with an incredible funk riff that provides a beautiful sense of escapism to a sepia toned, seventies landscape.
It’s not just the singles though; tracks seamlessly merge with each other in a Pink Floyd style and the album is best enjoyed in its entirety. It also works just as well in the background though, atmospherically the album feels expansive and dreamy. Every track has its own personal attachment and the forty-nine minute runtime feels more like two hours, as it sends you into a daydream-like state.
Overall, Childish Gambino’s departure from his hip-hop roots is a blessing and has provided one of the best albums of the year. A comprehensive, darkly soulful and funk-infused odyssey. Timed perfectly to cure your 2016 blues and warm you up on the cold nights ahead.
Best Tracks: Me and Your Mama, Have Some Love, Redbone, California, Riot