“Awaken, My Love!” slows down the summer

Childish Gambino performing live.
Childish Gambino performing live. Photo courtesy of Flickr

It’s summertime, and along with it comes plenty of free time to enjoy sunshine, spend time with friends and unwind. The season also calls for a soundtrack – high energy jams to play on hot midday car rides with the windows down. There are top hits that can be argued as the “song of the summer,” but there are also moments that call for a chiller vibe, like sitting around a campfire after the sun has gone down. That is the type of vibe that Childish Gambino’s new album brings to the table.

Childish Gambino is well known as a rapper, putting out popular hits such as “3005” and “Sober.” His most recent album, “Awaken, My Love!” is the third he has released. When I first searched up the album to listen to, I expected to hear upbeat rap, but I was surprised as soon as I heard the first few seconds of the biggest hit off the album, “Redbone.” Electric guitar and piano floated over a slow tempo, and the vocals throughout the song featured no rap at all. At first I thought that the style was exclusive to the one song, but the same vibes showed through the entire album.

Even though every song featured a base of similar instruments, the unique catchy riffs made every song iconic. “Redbone” is by far the most popular and can often be heard playing on hit radio stations, but all the others deserve recognition. The track “Riot” is one of the most energetic, starting out with a full band of instruments and layered harmonizing vocals throughout the song. It is definitely a different listening experience than his typical style, but it was no less enjoyable. In fact, out of all his albums I can confidently say “Awaken, My Love!” is my favorite.

The vocal style featured in all the songs is one that I’ve never heard before. Gambino maintains a scratchy, whiny tone throughout which at first annoyed me quite a bit. I’m used to not being able to understand every word in a song, but the vocals were occasionally to cryptic for my taste, such as in the verse of the track “California.” It took some getting used to, but the style grew on me and now I have no problem with it. The whole album is definitely dipping in to something new and different, which is one of the reasons why it’s become one of my favorites.

“Awaken, My Love!” is the perfect album to put on when it’s time to chill out with a group of friends. It falls right into the sweet spot between energetic and chill, and pleases most crowds during a hangout. There have been many times where I’ve been put on music duty and decided on playing the album, and I’ve never gotten a bad response. Even if the listener isn’t too familiar with the genre, just as I wasn’t, the ambiance that the songs create can be appreciated by almost anyone.

“Awaken, My Love!” is definitely part of my summer soundtrack. Taking a break from the intensity of most current hit songs is refershing, and yet the album is well known enough for me to share it with others. With the drastic change in style from the previous album, I am excited to see what Childish Gambino does next.

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