Childish Gambino’s new album is a musical time machine


Childish Gambino performs on the main stage on the infield before the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 16, 2015, at Pimiico Race Course in Baltimore. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS) Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun Buy Photos

While the term “Renaissance man” is thrown around too often, I cannot think of a man alive today who better embodies such a title than Donald Glover.

The man has written for three successful TV shows, starred in two of them, worked as a popular comedian, deejayed under the name mc DJ and wrote and produced three major records as Childish Gambino.

And then he turned 33. Who was the last man to accomplish so much in so little time? Isaac Newton? Leonardo da Vinci? Mozart?

Let’s also not forget the coolest part – he’s going to be the new Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo film.

What is there not to love about Glover?

His most recent accomplishment is the release of his LP “Awaken, My Love!” A departure from his signature hip-hop sound, this album replaces rap with funky, psychedelic mixes and a seemingly endless variety of vocal styles.

On this record, Glover appears to channel everyone from Prince to James Brown, from Al Green to Steven Tyler.

He can go from a chaotic madman on “Me and Your Mama” and “Riot” to sexy falsetto on “Baby Boy” and “Redbone.”

But it’s not just the vocals that are diverse. The entire foundation of this record’s sound seems to have been crafted through the lens of 1970s funk.

The bizarre character featured on the cover of the LP even looks like something from George Clinton’s P-Funk mythology.

It’s a very niche record. While I enjoyed it, those who loved Childish Gambino for his hip-hop style may be disappointed in this album.

If you don’t like soul, funk or psychedelic music, either, then you will especially hate “Awaken, My Love!”

While Glover and Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson produced a beautiful-sounding record, the production isn’t perfect.

“Stand Tall” does not work as the album’s final track, and both that song and “Me and Your Mama” featured abrupt changes in sound that would have worked better as two separate songs. Instead,they sound like Pink Floyd

Despite this, the album still has much to offer. The entire LP seems to be one long message to Glover’s newborn child.

The album’s themes of love, happiness, sorrow, hardships, sex and betrayal are necessary components for understanding how to navigate through one’s life.

While many artists choose to use their studio time to write and create an album centered around a breakup or personal trauma, Glover instead chose to make his subject the new center of his universe – his child.

No track better embodies these feelings better than “Baby Boy,” which directly addresses his child.

“Though these bodies are not our own / Walk tall, little one, walk tall.”

Whether you are going into finals week, your final semester, an unwanted or unexpected position after both, or facing the newly-elected government with trepidation, Glover is saying you should not be scared to take the next step forward. Walk tall, friend. Walk tall.

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