I Can't Call It: Awaken My Love - Childish Gambino

Posted On Tuesday, December 6, 2016

One day me & my homegirl Mo were having a convo that went a 'lil something like this:

Mo: "Yo...you heard Childish Gambino?"
Me: "Childish who?"
Mo: "Gambino."
Me: "Gambino? He down with the Wu or something?"
Mo: "Nah."
Me: "Nope...never heard of dude."
Mo: "I think you would like him. He raps and acts."
Me: "Word? A nigga named Childish Gambino who raps and acts? Come on Mo."
Mo: "I'm for real."
Me: "Aiight...I'll check him out."

Needless to say, I never did check for dude. Now fast forward a minute & me and wifey are checking out Matt Damon's new flick "The Martian" and she says "that's the guy I was telling you about who's a rapper and actor but I can't remember his name." And I'm like "Childish Gambino?" And she's like "yeah, that's him." "Word? That's what's up." Different person, same discussion, same outcome. I still didn't check for dude. Now fast forward another minute & my dude Steve hits me up asking if I'm watching this new series on FX "Atlanta" with Childish Gambino in it and I'm like "nah...I missed it but I DVR'd it so I'll peep it later." Now the difference this go round is I actually did go back and watch it and guess what? I absolutely LOVED it! "Atlanta" EASILY became my new fave show and since Gambino does damn near everything for the show, I figured I might as well give dude's music a spin. And as luck would have it, he's got a new album "Awaken My Love" about to drop so it looks like the planets, the stars and the moons have aligninged for me to finally see what Mr. Childish Gambino's music is hitting foe and I'm damn sure glad I did! 

"I'm in love when we're smoking that la-la-la-la-la"

The way that Gambino sets off "Awaken" with the album's 1st single "Me & Your Momma" is flat out beyond stupid. The intro? The guitars? The drums? The choir? The Funkadelic laugh? The Organ? The peacefulness? The anger? The peacefulness...again? And the singing? How on earth could I leave out the singing? I haven't heard something this soulfully funky and jaw dropping all at the same time since I heard Kast's "Bombs Over Baghdad" over 17 years ago. "Have Some Love" takes me back "Can You Get To That" off my fave Funkadelic album "Maggot Brain" and has Gambino asking for some unity amongst the brothers. "Have a word for your brother, have some time for one another, learn to love one another, it's so hard to find." The unadulterated funk of "Boogie Man" gives Gambino a chance to drop some jewels on the police brutality that's been plaguing black folk for the past 200 years, "if you point a gun at my rising sun, but in the bounds of your mind we have done the crime" and "Zombies" takes me to Funkadelic's classic "I'll Stay" & has Gambino speaking on all of the folk in his life who want a piece of him. "Riot" is more funk coming at you 100 miles & runnin' and sounds like some classic Bomb Squad chaos meets Funkadelic's "Super Stupid", "California" STAYS on repeat for days at a time while the bass line alone pulls you into "Terrified's" web of gospeldelic funk.

"But stay woke, niggas creepin"

"Baby Boy" is cut from the exact same cloth as Sly's "Just Like A Baby" and has Gambino tell his baby's mom to not take his child away from him even thought they're not together anymore, "I've never lied about us, we were never supposed to be together/when you see me with some other one and they know your son/please don't take him away, you said you won't but you will." "The Night Me And Your Momma Met" featuring Gary Clark Jr. is a flat out beautiful instrumental that sets off going going left with some funky acoustic guitar riffs and then before you know it, it takes a hard right with a Prince like electric guitar solo and then when the bass comes in? Maaaaaan come on. By this point you just want Gambino to stop playing with your musical emotions. The album ends with "Stand Tall" which reminds me of something from "The Wiz" but I can't quite put my finger onto why. But there's no way I can think of a doper way to end this album because between the background vocals, the flute solo, the positive message "keep all your dreams, keep standing tall/if you are strong you cannot fall" the various breaks in the music to shift the song, there's just no way you can go wrong with this song. But as much as I love everything on this album, my favorite banger on "Awaken" is EASILY the album's 2nd single "Redbone." "Redbone" is like a mixture of two of the funk gods collabo on the same track with Bootsy's "I'd Rather Be With You" slow jamming with Prince's "Do Me Baby." So unless you dumb, deaf AND blind you gotta know how insane something like that would sound. And if you don't have any idea just keep it on repeat for a couple of hours like I do everyday and you'll get the point.

A lot of young cats won't remember when Jordan dropped 63 in Boston back in '86 but to say that he was in the zone that night would be an HUGE understatement. And it's the exact same thing when you're talking about Childish Gambino cause this dude isn't just in the zone, he IS the zone! Cause when I tell ya'll "Awaken My Love" is something special, I mean it's REALLY something special. The first thing that came to mind when I finished my first spin of "Awaken" was it sounds like D'Angelo's "1,000 Deaths" on crack. And I'm not talking that new school crack. Nah. I'm talking that good, old school, 80's Ronald Reagan Night of the Living Baseheads crack. But here's the thing and it's really a simple thing. And that is, if you don't like funk then you probably won't like this album. Point blank period. Another reason I can see some folk not liking this album is if you were a Gambino fan from the door and you were expecting him to be rapping and all of a sudden you realize he just pulled a Lauryn Hill/Andre 3000 on ya. And trust, I get that. But for me, when it comes to issues like that, I'm like Com when he said "now black music is black music and it's all good" cause even though Lauryn and 3000 wasn't spitting on "The Miseducation" and "The Love Below" let's not front and try to act like both those albums aren't 5 mic classic and the same could be said with "Awaken." But if cats tell me they're not feeling this jawn for any other reason then the two I just named then I gotta tell you to put the pipe down and take a page outta the book of Pookie Chapter 4, verse 15 and check yourself into rehab ASAP cause you're damn sure smoking that 80's crack I was just talking about...for real!

4.5 outta 5

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