After the on-screen magic that was Atlanta, and following commentary offered up by Donald himself that he no longer wanted to make music under the Childish Gambino moniker, I had almost resigned to the reality of going hungry when it came to new musical material from the future Lando Calrissian.
When Glover announced the new Childish Gambino album "Awaken, My Love!" in November, I was a member of the elated masses, clutching my copy of Because the Internet and praying that this was an instance of true inspiration and not a case of capitalizing on heightened buzz.
After the first two singles, “Me and Your Mama” and “Redbone,” were released, I knew that this album was going to be Gambino’s turning point, a departure from the clever fellatio-centric punchlines of Culdesac and Camp, and an exponential musical evolution from the most promising elements of Because the Internet.
Upon hearing "Awaken, My Love!", however, I can't say I ever saw this coming. And neither could Roots drummer and all around music genius Questlove, who recently took to his Instagram in an outpouring of excitement and surprise over the album, going so far as to reveal that he called and woke up D’Angelo at 4 a.m. to geek out over Gambino’s latest body of work.
Quest describes the new Gambino album as a “sucker punch,” and I couldn’t agree more. Considering the album opens with "Me and Your Mama," the first single released off the LP, the real surprise doesn’t happen until the album’s second track, an outburst of funk and soul that sounds like someone locked War and P-Funk in a room and said, “go for it.”
In his attempt for some sort of comparison, Quest puts his reaction to Awaken alongside timeless musical surprises like Prince’s Around The World In A Day, Sly & The Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Going On, and Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black. That’s some pretty hefty company to be thrust into, and considering Questlove’s qualifications, it’s not an opinion to be taken lightly.
Considering Gambino’s past works, it’s safe to say this album is going to take some time to fully digest and will likely be met with incredibly mixed reactions, but to see Questlove's over-the-top reaction should be a red flag that we’ve got a potential classic on our hands.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.