Childish Gambino awakens his inner soul in third LP release

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 5:56 PM
Childish Gambino awakens his inner soul in third LP release by Roman Sabella

Childish Gambino is well known for his chameleon-like ability to handle practically every facet of mainstream media, and he is no stranger to trying new things. The rapper, actor (“Community” and “Atlanta”), comedian and writer (“Atlanta” and “30 Rock”) takes big strides on new album, “Awaken, My Love!.” Experimenting with sounds straight out of a Parliament/ Funkadelic album, he mixes these elements with some that are even David Bowie-inspired.

“Awaken, My Love!” starts out with the track “Me and Your Mama,” which is very epic in scale, beginning with an ethereal synth line that dances side-by-side with haunting gospel vocals. It then drops into a blues-rock inspired romp, as Gambino channels his inner James Brown. The song finally crescendos and fades out with a slowed down instrumental groove, which makes it feel like a full package and gives it the ability to elicit many different feelings out of one contained experience.

The album moves between gospel chorus vocals, 1970s soul influence, and more modern conventions seamlessly, which most definitely plays into its unique, experimental feel. The largest criticism one may have is that most tracks lack Childish Gambino’s raw vocals, with vocal production fitting an emotion more so than anything else, which is reminiscent of early 1970s soul music.

Probably the biggest complaint of the album by fans so far is that he has essentially abandoned rap in favor of an R&B/soul persona, but frankly, it’s always been there. The first showing of this came with his 2014 EP, “Kauai,” which featured tracks like “Sober” and “Pop Thieves (Make it Feel Good).” Both completely abandon rap, other than the strange and out of place spoken word section by the internet’s favorite modern day Aristotle, Jaden Smith.

Fret not, there are some more upbeat tracks that are blatantly meant to appease the less receptive fans, such as the extremely short-lived “Riot” and the falsetto ridden, Prince- inspired “Redbone.” Both of these carry a more modern R&B feel, or in the case of “Riot,” a funky, danceable tune.

Childish Gambino set out to create a certain atmosphere; he did it with deft hands and the help of a multi-talented live band who’ve performed his tracks with a fine degree of excellence in recent years. This is an album with a complete feel that will speak to a certain crowd, while others will loathe it and pray for a new rap mixtape.

Standout tracks: “Me and Your Mama,” “Zombies” and “Redbone.” 

Roman Sabella is a staff writer for The Spectator 

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