By: Kyle Brown
Awaken, My Love is another step in the direction of being a musical mainstay even if audiences might not quite get it just yet.
Gambino’s third studio album begins with “Me and Your Mama,” a mellow opera of having an impossible crush on that girl that you can sit back and just be yourself around. A soft, sweet seduction of piano ricochet on your soul as a choir of soprano give hints of 90’s R&B. The first two minutes are such a departure of what the genre has come to know, in any of the forms it has taken since the 70’s, and then it shifts as that second minute starts the verse. Heavy rock guitar and drums pound your brain into mosh pit mode as a gospel underline the beats with “Let me into your heart” bouncing around your skull as a tortured and anguished Gambino screams his lyrics to the sympathetic being you wish you could be. All of this to only fall back to Earth into a trance inducing sinkhole of electronica. This is all just on track one, but it sets the tone for the ten songs that follow it.
Every song on this album plays a part in the world that Gambino is trying to create for the genre. Each song beginning with the previous track’s emotion and evolving into a different work altogether as rock fades, jazz takes a foot onto the center stage. When jazz has had its fill then soul places itself in the front. When soul has worn out its welcome then synth makes an appearance. The blending of genres shouldn’t work, but it does in nearly every change it makes throughout this musical art piece. Songs like “Have Some Love” and “Boogieman” are hard to even tell that they are different songs because they bleed into one another like a suicide pact gone right. Awaken, My Love doesn’t just mix music type, but human emotions. “Riot” is a nice groove song that precedes the chill “Redbone”. A series of highs and lows that treat your nervous system like the 5 different stages of grief.
The pursuance of being different doesn’t always work out for an artist. Dylan went electric and lost those that closely championed his catalog. It drew ire at the time, but in recent years audiences have gone back to it and realized how truly wonderful of a departure it was from his norm. This is not me saying that Childish Gambino has reached an artistic pillar like Dylan, but he has started to climb that mountain that the pantheon resides atop of. Awaken, My Love may not be appreciated today as much as it will be in ten years when every other hip hop superstar follows the trend a decade after Glover laid down the tracks to ride that train on. It will be certain have haters, but even David Bowie got that in his pop phase and came out all the better for it in the mass’ eyes. This adventure won’t be for everyone, but for me it is a solid 4 out of 5 and I’m sure it’ll grow over the years and age like a fine wine. Though I do drink shit wine out of a box, so what the fuck would I know about wine?