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"Awaken, My Love!" Review: Childish Gambino Makes Grown Folks' Music

I've been an online writer for over six years. My articles often focus on parenting and art inspired by parenting.

Childish Gambino and his unidentified girlfriend pushing a stroller earlier this year. Has fatherhood illuminated his opus?

Childish Gambino and his unidentified girlfriend pushing a stroller earlier this year. Has fatherhood illuminated his opus?

Donald Glover, the Funkmaster

Awaken, My Love!, a wonderful pre-Christmas gift of an album, was released on December 2, 2016, and it does not disappoint. Donald Glover, the comedian, writer, actor, rapper, and producer, belts 11 works of art comprised of soulful lyrics of serious love intentions over nasty, '70s-inspired guitars and organs, the likes of which would make George Clinton jealous. With the backing of a soulful choir, Childish Gambino serenades his love as if there is no audience, with a falsetto that may cause ovulation.

This album's single, which was released prior to the debut, was only the tip of the iceberg. "Me and Your Mama" speaks of wanting a mature relationship with no fear of consequence. He says what many men fear speaking aloud—and what many women are dying to hear—when he unabashedly croons, "This ain't no puppy love."

Is it hot in here?

Layers of Love

If you have ever been in love, you know it is not a monolith, and this album is a pure reflection of that experience. It also reflects how when one has his affections set on a particular individual, the desire outweighs and transcends fear.

It's not like we didn't know he was a talented artist. He has sang on other albums of his, such as the light-hearted collaboration with Jhene Aiko titled "Pink Toes" on his futuristic-themed album Because the Internet.

The difference, however, between his sweet, melodic ballads on other albums and the intense, driven pleas for affection on his latest project, is he is not a young man trying to "see where this goes." He's a grown man making his serious intentions known, and he's not for games.

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This is the love album for the ages. It's long overdue, yet right on time for the afro future generation.

Freedom of Expression

"Redbone," another previously released track, speaks to the so-called Black "conscious" community with the refrain "stay woke" repeated in the chorus. This song, like all the others, has an addictive instrumental breakdown. It's hard to know if this was a well-crafted, intentional album or a jam session orchestrated by the cosmos. Either way, it's the perfect precursor to the upbeat "California."

The rap roots are evident in Glover's rhythmic choices and choice to incorporate the occasional use of autotune. Vocals are, however, the focus, and we are not mad at it.

Art Imitating Life

"Terrified" is machismo and romance combined. When Glover blatantly states, "I'm going to eat you alive" and "I don't eat fast food," it's, well, terrifying in its aggression, but it's a pretty accurate description of the form male dominance takes on when one has accepted he is in love and determined to be with the one he has his sights on.

Perhaps Glover is consumed in a loving relationship. It's speculation, as he has neither confirmed nor denied anything. He is a famous recluse in that way. Whether he has had a soul-stirring recent experience or is finally expressing a collection of influences, the outcome is a tapestry woven of all the hopes, dreams, and fears we all face when embarking on a journey with another person.

In "Baby Boy," he laments about how when "mama cries from daddy's lies," her next move is typically a chess move—that is, using the child as a pawn against the father. His earnest, heartfelt request is both out of concern for the future as a parent as well as a flawed human being who may continue to fail. It's the uncertainty of love when children come along. It is the unthinkable, yet we all know someone going through the aftermath.

The Renaissance man: He's full of surprises, and that's quite alright!

The Renaissance man: He's full of surprises, and that's quite alright!

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