Childish Gambino's New Album Is A Funky Left Turn While he was working on Atlanta, Donald Glover was also gathering musicians for soul jam sessions. "Awaken, My Love!" is an album of '70s throwback sounds that feels thrillingly alive.
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Childish Gambino's New Album Is A Funky Left Turn

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Childish Gambino's New Album Is A Funky Left Turn

Review

Music Reviews

Childish Gambino's New Album Is A Funky Left Turn

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Maybe you know comedian and rapper Donald Glover from his roles on TV shows like "Community" and "30 Rock."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "COMMUNITY")

DONALD GLOVER: (As Troy Barnes) Cookie Crisp mascot wasn't a wizard when I was a kid. It was a burglar.

CORNISH: Or perhaps you've caught his new hit show on FX, "Atlanta." He's the creator and star.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ATLANTA")

GLOVER: (As Earnest Marks) I love it. Was is that, curry?

ZAZIE BEETZ: (As Van) Are you kidding (laughter)?

GLOVER: (As Earnest Marks) It's like a very deep curry.

BEETZ: (As Van) That is not - that's...

CORNISH: But right now, we're going to talk about his musical alter ego, Childish Gambino.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "3005")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Rapping) I mean it, between us I think there's something special. And if I lose my mental, just hold my hand even if you don't understand. Hold up.

CORNISH: Glover recently released his third Childish Gambino album. It's called "Awaken, My Love!" Reviewer Tom Moon says even if you know Glover's work, this album will surprise you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDISH GAMBINO SONG, "REDBONE")

TOM MOON, BYLINE: For his latest project, Donald Glover transformed a house in the Hollywood Hills into a multi-purpose creative headquarters. By day, he and a team of writers developed scripts for his TV show "Atlanta." Then at night, the Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson and other musicians would join Glover for marathon explorations of psychedelic soul.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REDBONE")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Singing) Too late, you want to make it right, but now it's too late. My peanut butter chocolate cake with Kool-Aid, I'm trying not to waste my time.

MOON: Out of that cauldron comes a head-swiveling left turn, a Childish Gambino makeover. There's very little of his high-speed 10-ideas-per-minute rap style. In its place, deep old-school backbeats and wildly passionate singing, think Prince, Sly and the Family Stone and especially Funkadelic. It's thrillingly alive music, not some sort of studied throwback.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOOGIEMAN")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Singing) With a gun in your hand, I'm the boogieman. I'm going to come and get you. If you point a gun at my rising sun, though we're not the one...

MOON: Some tracks feature a full band. Others are layered studio creations. It's all loose and off-the-cuff, a jam session laced with calls to unity and occasionally profound observations about inequality, race and fear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOOGIEMAN")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Singing) But if he's scared of me, how can we be free? Yes. Boogieman, yes, you've got to help us. Can you? Yes, you can, oh. Boogieman, you've got help us, can you? Yes, you can...

MOON: Since he first appeared, Donald Glover's aligned himself with hip-hop culture. With this project, he's changing camps, shifting his emphasis from brainy wordplay to elaborately textured updates of '70s funk. From the freaky bone-rattling bass right up to the falsetto vocals, "Awaken, My Love!" celebrates the kind of groove-making that can free your mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME AND YOUR MAMA")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Singing) I'm in love when we are smoking that la, la-la, la-la, la-la. I'm in love when we are smoking that...

CORNISH: Donald Glover is Childish Gambino. His latest album is called "Awaken, My Love!" Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME AND YOUR MAMA")

CHILDISH GAMBINO: (Singing) I'm in love when we are smoking that la, la-la, la-la, la-la...

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