“Awaken, My Love!” performed by Childish Gambino and Ludwig Göransson is nominated for the album of the year award at the Grammys this year. Live instrumentation on an entire album is very entertaining and inviting for me; especially in the Metro Boomin and 808 Mafia SoundCloud era (which I love btw). It makes me want to listen over and over again to catch the pieces I missed in the last listen. Whether it be to take a deeper focus on the message being preached and serenaded by Gambino or to listen to the rhythm, blues, soul, and funk of the audio. Filled with harmony, guitars, drums, synths, bottles, bass, and a prideful free spirit, “Awaken, My Love!” is a 70’s influenced album born in 2016 and undeniably on its way to being considered an absolute classic album.
This album showcases a determined Gambino covering a wide range of emotional topics. From the importance of 2 active parents in a young man’s life in Stand Tall to the timeless, funky cut Redbone, covering infidelity. Although Childish Gambino is definitely a “woke” individual; it doesn’t feel like there is a direct and precise overall message in the full body of the album. It audibly blooms open like you would imagine a dream to begin. As the album continues, it feels like the dream is simply flipping from chapter to chapter while having a few reoccurring memories.
He really sets the tone of the album with the introduction track, Me and your Mama. Music, weed, and sex is an easy hook for a listener like me. Letting marijuana persuade you and your lover can turn into a very memorable experience; to say the least. The Rhodes and synthesizer mixed with snaps and 808’s makes me feel like I’m taking an inducing pull of the bong that unhurriedly turns into a burning cough. Right when you think you know what is going on; Gambino viciously attacks the drums and microphone while the choir and band turns up alongside. It cracks into a sudden rush of heightened emotion with a ripping electric guitar and a reoccurring demonic chuckle from hell. The method to all this madness is to reinforce the simple message of greed. Lusting over his vice, or vices, and loving every minute of it.
Boogieman is probably the funkiest of the bunch in the album. I draw a since of white privilege from this joint. The negative stereotype and natural but needless fear black men give police in the field is also stressed. Gambino asks the “boogieman”, or the police, to help us in the matter of police brutality. Besides having a strong and precise message; this is simply a great mix to listen to. Ludwig and Gambino really pull together instrumentally and jam out together; giving that feel of the 70’s funk era to the virgin ear of the centennial generation. I LOVE this song.
The track Riot embodies the feeling of just that. Wha-Wha guitars crashing with psychedelic synths along with a powerful excitement of emotion fueling Americans nationwide after the shocking results of the presidential election of 2016; this was a cry from the people whether we knew it or not. Whaling lyrics like “[…] I’ve been watching all this all night […] This pressure brewing /This world don’t feel alright;” Gambino appears to be frustrated and concerned with the well-being of us all. Short and sweet, this song features Childish Gambino pouring his heart out over a remixed sample of Good to Your Earhole by the legendary 70’s funk band Funkadelic.
I really love the composition of blues music in Baby Boy. This song may have tip toed past my eardrums at least 20 times before I took an actual listen to it. It contains a dripping base line, stabbing guitar plucks, and a heartfelt whine from the man of the hour; giving this album its best easy listening attribution yet. Childish Gambino is heard describing the feeling of falling in love whit his son; his “…Pride and joy…” as he emphasizes. He then continues to express the time he has with his son being cut short due to his mistakes he made in the relationship with himself and the mother of his child. He remorsefully sings “But oh, when mama cries from daddy’s lies /Oh my, please don’t take him away.” After the second chorus of the song, the band breaks down into a jam session; taking away the main vocals and introducing the organs to really bring this conflicting moral home. Put one in the air while playing this slow jam and try not to judge too hard. After all, we’ve all made our mistakes.
As for the rest of this album, you’re going to have to listen for yourself for an analysis; if you haven’t already. Some other favorites of mine include Have Some Love, Zombies, and Terrified. I strongly recommend taking a break from the norm and giving this album your precious time. I love this album and rotate it on at least a weekly basis. This album “Awaken, My Love!” has music, a message, and an attitude definetlly worth giving a listen to. Sorry Kendrick, but I’ve got to give it to this dynamic duo this year ‘round. Take a bow; Childish Gambino and Ludwig Göransson.
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Lyrics to “Baby Boy” and “Riot” found at Genius, 2016, https://genius.com/albums/Childish-gambino/Awaken-my-love .