Awaken My Love!!! As Da Brat and Jermaine Dupri would say is ‘Sooooo, Funkdafied.” It is the latest album by The Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) a.k.a. the dude that can’t lose this year, a.k.a. the dude that is playing Lando Calrissian in the new Star Wars (yeah Billy Dee’s role), a.k.a. the dude that created and wrote the best new show of 2016, which is Atlanta.
This album most assuredly brings the Trunk Funk, but it also serves up Rock, Soul, Blues and Gospel all in one beautiful gift. Holding the roots of Black music at it’s foundation, and using creativity as a spoon to feed sophisticated musical palates that are tired of bland music.
Honestly, I have not been more intrigued by an album in years. I have played it at least 10 times all the way through since last Friday. I’ll admit, it may not be a first listen type of album. It has layers and experiments that will grow on you. For me it was a lot like listening to the Love Below by Andre 3000 of Outkast for the first time. I just did not know what to make of it. I was not a Love Below fan at first. Now I think It is one of the best albums ever recorded, but that was 16 years ago. Now my ears were ready for this kind of work.
What is so special about it? Why should you play it on repeat?
First off Gambino is going to shock you with sound, then connect to you as a fan. This album is filled with fuzzy guitars, falsetto vocals, gospel singing, punchy bass, and psychedelic interludes. The album hits over the head with beats that bang, girls that sang, and a styles that clang together to create an unforgettable journey. Not what you would expect from someone who has only put out rap albums. To be truthful I don’t love his other albums. But I do feel like AML combined with Atlanta make me feel connected to him as an artist. I see myself and my friends and family in his writing and characters.
As I was listening I could place people in my life who would be into this music, or the lyrics reminded me of an experience with them. I saw myself in this art, I heard myself is this art, and that means a lot to me. He is making music for “Me and my Folks”
Soooo, next up is my favorite topic. Musical History. I listened to Awaken, on my home system, out for a run on headphones, and off my computer speakers. Each time the funk hit me in a different way, resulting in a screwed face head nod with a “whooooo….. It’s Hot” attached to it. However when I got into the car and played it, everything came together.
No one can tell you what love feels like, you just know. I had a moment going through the Holland Tunnel playing this album and I just knew. How did I know? What did I hear? I heard him using Funkadelic and Sly Stone as a roux to make a delicious pot of Gambino Soul Stew.
1. Maggot Brain by Funkadelic
2. There’s a Riot Going on by Sly and the Family Stone.
These two albums are the sonic foundation of Awaken, My Love.
Want to compare them? Let’s do it.
Have Some Love- Childish Gambino
Can you get to that – Funkadelic
Do you hear the unison voices singing gospel like harmonies on top of the snapping back beat? Gambino perfectly invokes the feeling of “Can you get to that” in a completely original way. It’s like hearing George and Bootsy get busy but with modern recording equipment, just fownk!
Redbone by Childish Gambino
I’d Rather Be With You- Bootsy Collins
Hear that punchy Bootsy Bass, and the chords? It’s what we do. Learn from our ancestors to create something new. While still giving credit to those that taught us.
Baby Boy- Childish Gambino
Just like a Baby- Sly Stone
Just listen to the Bass line… the influence is clear.
The Pharcyde wrote ” I want to kick something that means something” a line on their classic album “Labcabincalifornia” In an era of mumble raps and senseless music that is “Offensive and a threat to us.” (Oddisee) Childish Gambino is bringing us music with a message. Music that tells us to “Stand Tall” and never back down from your dreams. Music that asks us to “Have Some Love.” Music that shows us it is ok to be “Terrified” at times and on Baby boy he croons of a parents love for his/her child. This album, and Atlanta give a glimpse into the life of a real person, allowing you to see yourself in it. This is age appropriate music with meaning. From the talking drum, to the slave field holler, to KRS ONE. We have used our music to send messages. Glover is keeping the tradition strong.
Unfortunately, a musicians credit list has not been released. (digital technology uggh, just give me liner notes please) But whoever it is that played on this record……. I love them, plain and simple. The album is laden with warm funky yet melodic bass lines. Guitar that is sometimes smooth and acoustic like Norah Jones, but gritty and distorted like Jimi Hendrix on the next track. The drums are big and crisp. Intended to keep your head ringing through the whole journey. The Vocals are Prince like with Andre 3000 fused in. The background vocals invoke the Fisk Jubilee singers and En Vouge simultaneously. It’s top notch musicianship throughout.
This record contains a sound palate that is unlike anything you will hear currently. So much movement. Not just Verse, Chorus, Verse, chorus, bridge, chorus and out. No, these are fully imagined, and perfectly executed musical compositions. Compositions with dynamic shifts in rhythm, volume, tempo and style throughout. I even love the way is ends…………………….
Maggot Brain- Funkadelic
There’s a Riot Going on – Sly Stone
The Love Below- Outkast
Dirty Mind- Prince
Hot Buttered Soul- Issac Hayes
Are You Experienced- Jimi Hendrix