Childish Gambino: Awaken, My Love!
What’s that? You’ve never heard of Childish Gambino? You probably have, but just don’t realize it.
Although he performs under the name Childish Gambino, you may know him as Donald Glover. He’s a comedian (Derrick Comedy). He’s an actor (Community, 30 Rock, Atlanta, and the upcoming standalone Han Solo Star Wars movie). At 23, he became a writer for 30 Rock (thanks Tina Fey). Obviously, he’s also a musician (Camp, Because the Internet). Now that his CV is out of the way, let’s leave all the non-music discussions for another time and place. His earlier work features him rapping, but Awaken, My Love! finds him embracing some 70s funk. Cue the controversy.
There are some who unfavorably compare this album to recent work by D’Angelo & the Vanguard or Kendrick Lamar. There are others who unfavorably compare it to George Clinton/Funkadelic or Bootsy Collins. Sure, we could draw those comparisons, but who cares? You can do that with almost anything. People will always find someone else who is better at this or that and, ultimately, someone’s going to lose in the effort. Why not just take it for what it is? It’s a new direction for Glover and I’m enjoying it. While I can hear the nods to all the aforementioned artists, I’m also hearing some Prince. On some of the punchier guitar parts, like the opening track Me and Your Mama, I’m even hearing some Sly Stone.
While I really dig this album, it’s not perfect. There’s not a Justin Vernon-level of auto-tune abuse, but there are some songs where he could’ve used less. That’s just my opinion. If you don’t mind auto-tune, you’ll probably enjoy those songs. California is easily the most annoying song, but it’s also dangerous. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself humming it later because it’s turned into a heinous earworm. It’s that type of song. Some songs I’m not sure what he’s trying to accomplish with his voice as he seems to distort it to fit a song. Just sing, man. Just. Sing.
Here’s the SpottySpotty: