By Victoria Street
Donald Glover knows exactly what he’s doing. We’re all just trying to figure it out. To truly understand the importance of this album, here’s a few things you must know before listening to “Awaken My Love!”
Childish Gambino (stage name) has built a career initially off of comedy, while singing, rapping, producing, writing, acting have all been in his repertoire. Fans have grown to know and love his very witty, quirky and sometimes pensive tone heard throughout music. Like many, you may have fell in love with the sunny sounds of Gambino on his last commercially successful studio album “Because The Internet” released in 2013, featuring Chance The Rapper, Jhené Aiko, Azealia Banks, and Lloyd. It’s important to note that this was a HIP HOP album containing a little singing but mostly rapping.
So why’s this album so important?
This album doesn’t sound like anything he’s ever released. And not in that I-miss-the-old-Kanye kind of way. Progression is important. Versatility is SAID to be appreciated. But what happens when an artist who is labeled as a “rapper” does not rap a lick on a highly anticipated project as such. Are you confused, upset, or surprised? Figuratively speaking, here’s what happened to Gambino fans: went to buy our favorite juice. Got home, took a sip, and noticed it tasted different. Similar, not weird, but different. Intrigued—kept drinking, until there’s no point of taking it back anymore. Come to find out, it was diet flavored.
Listeners went in EXPECTING some kind of hip hop and came out with an unexpected derivative: FUNK. Nobody saw this coming.
Now this is not to say that we’ve never heard a “rapper” use influences from other genres like funk and soul. Kendrick Lamar does it flawlessly in To Pimp a Butterfly. Outkast pretty much built a career stemming from it.
This album is important because no one is making music like this anymore. Gambino is shattering terms like “rapper” and promoting musical fluidity. This is not to be confused: Gambino didn’t reinvent the sound, he simply reminded us.
What could have caused this sound?
After his last album, Glover put out a mixtape STN MTN and EP Kauai as a continuation of ‘Internet’. Somewhere between his touring in 2013-14, he signed on to star in, write and executive produce a music-based show Atlanta which just premiered in September. Not to mention he’s been casted for the forthcoming Spiderman and Star War movies. Glover’s a busy man. But while listening to Awaken My Love, you can’t help but think…what if he went to hisfamily reunion last year in Georgia and was forced to hear about the ‘good ol days’ during a seven hour game of dominoes. Because “AML” has “Boaaa, you’on know nuttin bout this” written all over it! Since the album isn’t very wordy, think of this a 70s beat tape. Influences from Bootsy Collins, Rick James and Parliament-Funkadelic are clearly heard throughout the album. As a matter of fact, George Clinton even has production credit on the psychedelic thriller, “Riot”.
Alas, a project you can bump for your parents and grandparents in confidence.
If you’ve already heard the singles “Me and Your Mama” and “Redbone”, check out Terrified and Stand Tall for the one time.
P.S. I’ll give anyone who can get through California without skipping, cringing or leaving the room a shoutout. He could’ve kept that one. You ever try to talk while chocking yourself? Yeah, he tried it!
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