Gambino returns with pride

By Sam Malone

“Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino, nominated for Album of the Year, is an intriguing and compelling collection of songs fit for listeners of any genre, as boundaries are subtly and successfully pushed.

The third studio album by rap artist Childish Gambino, this album is anything but simple. With each track being treated like a puzzle and the different instruments as the pieces, the songs come together seamlessly, creating a beautiful finished product.

The opening track, “Me and Your Mama,” is a gorgeous rollercoaster ride beginning with dream-like melodies that quickly snap into a gritty and scruffy, pain-ridden song. Achieving this both through instrumentation and vocals, the album opens with a bang and a sneak peak of what is to come if Childish Gambino were predictable, but here, he is anything but.

Clearly drawing from rhythm and blues roots on this album, many of the tracks smack listeners in the face with soul as Childish Gambino relays his message of love and family.

“Have a word for your brother, have some time for one another,” Childish Gambino sings in “Have Some Love,” the second track on the album. “Really love one another, it’s so hard to find.”

After a prolonged break from the music scene and two years dark on social media, “Awaken, My Love!” delivers on the anticipation it built up. While the lyrics may not always be the most meaningful, the music is a home run and has a depth that is incomparable.

“The Night Me and Your Mama Met,” the penultimate track on the album, is comparable to the peak of Everest, as it falls together with a lulling choir, subtle reggae-style rhythm guitar followed by tangy, slightly distorted electric riffs. The instrumental track provides a break, taking listeners by surprise and is, quite possibly, one of the most compelling pieces of audio up for nomination.

Vocally, Childish Gambino really brings home the soul influence of the album, and he often sings and allows his voice to sustain throughout the measures, chilling the audience. He really lets his voice shine on the close of the album, “Stand Tall,” when he pushes smooth vocal melodies over soft bass and guitar lines.

Beginning raw with a clean vocal line and effortlessly transitioning into a distorted melody, the track also features a musical break with whimsical flute and clarinet parts that add a new, fantastical atmosphere to the track.

Upon listening, everything makes sense and fits together simply, but at a closer look, it becomes apparent that this album is made up of 1,000 different pieces that Childish Gambino skillfully and deliberately places.

While the lyrics can get lost in the music and the album seems to end abruptly, “Awaken, My Love!” does something that every artist should strive to do; it defies expectations and genres, creating a musical experience that listeners don’t have to think about. The album sucks its audience into the imagination of Childish Gambino where fine details are not forgotten.