By Kevin Bailey
This shit is fire. I’m just as shocked as you are to report that, but it’s true. Childish Gambino, a.k.a. the dude that everyone loves as Troy (and one half of television’s greatest ever bromance) in Community, has had a wonky musical career. It kicked off with a catalogue of forgettable, hipster joke raps, before evolving a little in his last release, Because the Internet, with some Frank Ocean-inspired singing that caught this listener’s attention—even if it didn’t hold onto it very long.
With Awaken, My Love! Childish Gambino sounds authentic, as if he shed his self-consciousness and made the music he was meant to: that straight psychedelic, freaky-funky, cosmic-groove nasty.
The first track, “Me and Your Mama,” opens with a contemporary synthed-out sound for a couple minutes before being smashed to bits with an Isaac Hayes-esque guitar lick in a drastic switch up, and Gambino lets out his impressive primal singing over some natural earthy instrumentation without looking back. Over the next few numbers, he channels Parliament Funkadelic very convincingly until the noteworthy heater, “Redbone,” brings the mood more between the sheets. “California” is a somewhat miscast earworm that gives the album some levity, while “Baby Boy,” oozes Al Green soul. The album’s last couple songs close it out on an uplifting note, though they do drag on a bit.
To simply call this release a throwback sells it short. It holds its ground among the pantheon of albums it derives its influence from.Awaken, Childish Gambino, My Love!