After a two year hiatus, Childish Gambino, aka. Donald Glover, released his third studio album entirely composed of singing, switching indie rap for a more funkadelic pop sound.
The last time Donald Glover officially released music was in 2014 with the “Kauai/ STN MTN” double EP, but Dec 2, 2016, brought a new repertoire and sound to the table with the release of Glover’s newest project and third studio album, “Awaken, My Love!”
Admittedly, this has been Glover’s year, characterized by the critical acclaim of his new show “Atlanta,” its renewal for a second season, and this album’s warm reception from music critics in contrast with former failures such as “Camp” and “Because the Internet.”
After the release of “Me and Your Mama” and “Redbone,” many fans and critics developed general opinions on the sound change, though after the full release, a reconnaissance made the sensual, cosmic sound of the album available. This shocked many who had become well acquainted with the rapper, who had evolved from squeaking on his “Sick Boi” mixtape to exhibiting musical versatility, cunning, and sophistication on the “STN MTN/ Kauai” mixtape. This mirrors Prince’s legendary transition with the “Purple Rain” album in the 80s, creating a sound that appealed to the eclectic tastes of various demographics amongst his mixed fanbase. The lively electric guitar solos in “Me and Your Mama” also suffice for the general lack of rapping while collating fans.
Glover’s newest project is also undeniably linked to his newest show “Atlanta.”
“The thesis was: How do we make people feel black? It turned into something more attainable than that, but that was the idea. I was like, ‘Let’s make something that shouldn’t be on the air, something controversial.’ If it’s canceled in 10 episodes, I’ll be happy with those episodes,” Glover said in a conversation about the show’s purpose.
This album, rooted in the legacies of black icons such as Sly and the Family Stone, Bootsy Collins, and Prince, musically barraged listeners in a way that created a black experience nonetheless, but also recognizes the general ambiguity on defining blackness. Peeling away the layers of this album garners the same effect as peeling away the parts of someone’s cultural identity, and it is fascinating to say the least. The black of the 70s and 80s was different, in essence, from the black that exists today, and there is a nice fusion of that vibe in the album. The notable successes of “Awaken, My Love!” are its non-exclusionary properties. No matter the age or race of the listener, there is a record there for them. In a non-conventional aspect, Glover created something truly revolutionary.