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Awaken, My Love!

by Childish Gambino

Released December 2, 2016 via Glassnote Records

Reviewed December 2, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Bonfire (62%), Heartbeat (45%), Les (43%)

On his third studio album, Childish Gambino took his sound in an entirely new artistic direction. Though he had delved into R&B and soul on past projects, nothing came close to matching the sheer funk that is “Awaken, My Love!” Drawing inspiration from Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain, Gambino made something truly special; wildly diverse vocals and create a unique vibe for each individual track. The production is consistently beautiful, psychedelic and lush, with a lyricism that’s unmatched by any other Childish Gambino project. He discusses everything from love and fame to racism and police brutality, using well-crafted metaphors to establish these messages. Five years later, “Awaken My Love!” remains the best Childish Gambino project to date, as well as a landmark of the 2010s in contemporary funk and R&B. – Hadley (9/10)

The release of “Awaken, My Love!” was the metaphorical end to Donald Glover’s moniker of “Childish Gambino.” He later released 3.15.20 under the same name, but Glover’s career as a musician was forever altered after his third studio release. The maturation on display in comparison to Glover’s previous work is astounding, as “Awaken, My Love!” takes tasteful––sometimes downright obvious––inspiration from classic ’70s soul and funk music. This record is so refreshing for that reason; it never shies away from displaying those inspirations directly, without losing sight of who Glover is on a musical tapestry that defines such a profound artistic shift. “Awaken, My Love!” is the first album that truly reflected Donald Glover’s multifaceted talent as a musician, and is the mouthwash for years of albums that left a bad taste in the mouths of so many. – Ben (Synth) (8/10)

It’s easy to dismiss this as a straight rip-off of Funkadelic, but Childish Gambino’s third record is a soulful demonstration of both his and Ludwig Göransson’s virtuosic songwriting capabilities. Together, they recall a lot of the era’s instruments—including the slap bass, mellotron, clavinet, and more—yet use modern production techniques to hypothesize what bands like Funkadelic or Sly & The Family Stone would sound like if they began shaping music with today’s improved technology. Donald Glover also highlights an improved vocal prowess, not only being able to falsetto, but to add a smokey, ghoulish flavor to it on “Redbone” and “Boogieman.” They, alongside tracks like “Zombies,” “Riot,” and “Terrified,” all support this sinister atmosphere; but it is dutifully broken up by brief thematic detours like the more personal “Baby Boy” or the goofy “California.” Awaken, My Love! has a somewhat timeless quality to it, so after five years it hasn’t lost its swagger, chic, and technical proficiency. In fact, it’s probably gotten stronger with the release of Glover’s follow up, 3.15.20.Cam (8/10)

Pax: 9.3/10 | Daniel: 9/10 | Dominick: 8.5/10 | Ben (Synth): 8/10 | Cam: 8/10

DeVán: 8/10 | Pablo: 7.5/10 | Henny: 7/10 | Jared: 7/10 | Peter: 7/10


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