Donald Glover mixes it up as he releases his third studio album, Awaken, My Love! The funk is real with this one, and it’s guaranteed to get you hoppin’.
On Dec. 2, Childish Gambino dropped his new piece. Fans were waiting for Glover to release another record since his last EP, which came out in late 2014. However, on Awaken, My Love! Glover successfully explores a genre that is entirely new to his body of work. In the past, Childish Gambino’s music was hip-hop and rap, but his latest work is a combination of R&B and funk.
First things first: There is no rap on this record, and if that is what you are anticipating, you will be disappointed. However, this doesn’t mean his journey into funk is shallow or disappointing. It’s exactly the opposite.
Glover’s vocals are stunning. The first song starts out with a relaxing, melodic beat. This does not last long, as Gambino starts singing and almost screaming in an incredibly emotional and soulful way. This makes for a fantastic start as a gospel choir accompanies him and establishes the mood.
Throughout the album, he sings in a variety of styles, and no matter which one he chooses, he sounds wonderful, ranging from funky and gritty to clean and soulful. Although the vocals were good in his previous EP Kauai, it’s clear that he has improved. His vibrato is enchanting, his range is impressive and his voice is precise. He also uses backup vocals to great effect. They create much more intense feelings during the songs and help give the tracks a soulful and gospel sound.
The backing tracks range from being soothing and chill to upbeat and hectic. No matter which one it is, the production is amazing. On each track, the backing music matches Glover’s singing style, but there is always a tad bit of funk. A lot of instruments were used throughout the production, and although there are synthesizer and electronic sounds, the instruments played were real. A few of them are drums, guitar, glockenspiel, bass and a variety of wind instruments. The drums are used heavily and they make some insane beats. All of the instruments work together, and the result is astonishing.
Previously, Gambino rapped about some outlandish things, but the topics that arise on this album are more serious as he focuses on relationships, particularly family. Whether it’s in Gambino’s voice or an instrumental part, there is raw emotion throughout his more personal songs, and it’s beautiful.
When I heard that Gambino was dropping another album, I was excited to hear some fresh new raps, but this was a welcomed piece of work. It may not be the wacky and crude rapper that we know, but his dedication and musical talents show as he tackles a different genre. Awaken, My Love! scores an eight out of 10 for a solid production and incredible vocals. This record is an experience. If you are a fan and have your doubts, listen to it. It might grow on you.
Contact CU Independent Arts Contributor Benjamin Vernon at firstname.lastname@example.org.