Review: Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”


In 2013, I argued Childish Gambino’s merit as one of the most important rappers on the scene. The Grammy-nominated Because the Internet wasn’t just a monumental step forward for the artist that created it – it was filled with the kind of potential that might send ripples through the art form itself.

Since that time, Donald Glover has had little interest in pulling at that thread, instead releasing the pop-inspired Kauai EP, going radio silent for nearly a year, and re-emerging with one of 2016’s most important new TV series, Atlanta. Given his ever-growing talents and seeming determination to never do the same thing twice, his latest musical installment, “Awaken, My Love!”, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Even so, it confounds.

You can buy

You can buy “Awaken, My Love!” on iTunes.

As if to hammer into our skulls that the days of dick jokes and quirky one-liners are as far in the past as possible, “Awaken, My Love!” treads far away from any path you might expect a Childish Gambino record to travel. In all actuality, Glover is far from the first rapper to draw heavy influence from 70’s soul and funk – Outkast, Kendrick Lamar and others have all drawn deeply from this well, even recently. However, Glover has tumbled in headfirst in a continuing quest to expand his reflections on relationships, race and existence.

Gambino’s gospel-infused plea of, “Let me into your heart” on lead single “Me and Your Mama” proved to be far more than a gimmick to get our attention. That track is merely the most palatable re-introduction to an artist now more inspired by Bootsy Collins or George Clinton than Jay or Ye.

Awaken wanders through a vast sonic forest of psychedelic funk and soul, with each track standing easily alone thanks to Glover’s insistence on changing character. His screams from the album opener transition to creepy inflections on “Zombies”, a commentary on industry leeches: “All I see is zombies / They can smell your money / And they want your soul”. Later, on album highlight “Redbone”, his voice takes on a pitch-corrected falsetto as he reflects on the painful gray areas of a relationship that seems to mirror that of Earn and Van’s on Atlanta.

At it’s best, Awaken capitalizes on Glover’s creativity and range, matching distinctive vocal choices with bold music selections to carry the weight of his message. On “Baby Boy”, his distorted pleading voice perfectly and painfully encapsulates his fears of losing connection with his newborn son: “I don’t wanna leave you / I don’t want him to see you / But oh, when mama cries from daddy’s lies / Please don’t take him away”.

These earnest moments make tracks like “California” nearly insufferable. The potential for success is squelched by Glover’s painful accent and clumsy lines like, “How you want to loop this shit but looking like a Vine?” If we weren’t so far removed from some of the juvenile deliveries of Camp, you could easily write these attempts off as humor, but “Awaken, My Love!” shakes away that notion every turn, making any such reconciliation difficult.

It comes as a deep relief when Glover is able to tie these stray ends together by the album’s conclusion. On “Stand Tall”, Gambino forgoes vocal effects and accents as he uses his father’s words to bring understanding amidst personal and universal confusion: “Keep all your dreams, keep standing tall / If you are strong, you cannot fall”. It’s such an easily digestible sincerity that you can’t help but reach for the repeat button to see if your perception of Awaken might shift upon repeated listens.

Glover has certainly earned the creative license that results in something like “Awaken, My Love!” And, as a project deeply inspired by childhood memories with his father, it makes sense as vehicle to express his evolving perspective on relationships and his own first taste of fatherhood. It’s a deeply personal record that feels genuine, sometimes as a direct result of the very flaws it possesses.

Perhaps Awaken is Childish Gambino’s 808s & Heartbreak – an intimate and peculiar expression that leads the artist headlong into a masterpiece. Whatever the case, it’s an album worth talking about and further proof that Donald Glover is one of the most fascinating and curious artists around.


by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Childish Gambino Returns with “Me and Your Mama”


In a week that has been nearly devoid of good news, things just got slightly better. Childish Gambino has returned with a new singled titled “Me and Your Mama” which will be the lead track on his upcoming album, Awaken, My Love! The track is full of emotion and likely not at all what you might have expected. Take a listen below:

Awaken, My Love! is set to release on December 2, nearly three years after Gambino’s lauded Because the Internet. It’s been a busy year for Donald Glover, whose new show “Atlanta” just finished it’s first season on FX. Given Glover’s blossoming creative genius, it’s a safe bet that Awaken will be well worth the wait.


If you like what you hear, you can preorder Awaken, My Love! now. What are your thoughts on the new song? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Most Anticipated of 2016: #5 Childish Gambino Breaks the Internet


Where on earth is Childish Gambino?

It was a pretty quiet year for Donald Glover the musician. After the critical success of his sophomore album, Because the Internet, Childish Gambino was radio silent for most of 2015 – even his Twitter account went blank. Outside of the music world, Glover made appearances in movies like “The Martian” and “The Lazarus Effect”, and his comedy series, “Atlanta”, was recently picked up by FX.

Glover has always been multi-talented, combining his comedy, acting, writing and music into a whirlwind of cultural force. Even during the days of his coming out party while on the cast of “Community”, it was clear that Glover was destined for greatness. As 2016 begins, the line between Glover the rapper and Glover the everything else may be murkier than ever, but we’re still holding out hope for a return of Gambino before year’s end.

Because the Internet succeeded with its refusal to give into pretense, demolishing preconceived notions of a lack of maturity that spurred from the release of his debut, Camp. Sometimes funny, often heart wrenching, always pointed, that album mined the depths of the millennial psyche in the Internet age, proving Gambino to be far more than a joke rapper. With a voice that distinct and contemplative, we eagerly await whatever comes next, music or otherwise.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Review: Childish Gambino – Because the Internet


In many ways, Donald Glover is the prototypical figure of our current social media generation. Consider the grassroots push to get Glover cast as the lead in the new Spiderman series, the slew of rapid-fire EP and mixtape releases that put Childish Gambino on the map or the appropriately quirky viral marketing of his new album, Because the Internet. Has anyone else ever released an animated GIF image in announcement of their album cover?

Glover’s presence on the web, coupled with his role in a cult TV show allows for just enough groundswell to make him virally relevant without pushing him into the mainstream. Thus, he’s still cool enough for the underground crowd without becoming so widespread as to lose his status as a voice for the hipster hip hop heads. All of this culminates in Because the Internet, an album that captures Glover and the spirit of the internet age in a way that is poignant, provocative and near perfect.

While Camp was a worthy debut effort, it also felt a bit too self-indulgent, immature and unfocused. The same cannot be said for Because the Internet. Glover has appeared to grow in every way imaginable on this new record – not only becoming a better songwriter, but delving into much deeper subject matter and purposely displaying it with an array of styles and influences.

Upon first listen, it would be easy to call the album disjointed or unfocused, but with repeated listens, the overarching theme of the album begins to take shape. Childish Gambino barrels through a slew of styles, flowing smooth like Frank Ocean on “Shadows”, creating the atmosphere of Kanye’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on “Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)”, and laying down a Young Money-esque track with “Sweatpants”.

There’s also the indie feel of “The Worst Guys”, the accessibility of “3005” and the calming, ambient sound of “Flight of the Navigator”. While this could be chalked up to extreme experimentation on Glover’s part, it also touches on something much deeper. In the spirit of our rapid-fire media consumption, Because the Internet is a reflection of Glover’s psyche, as viewed from the perspective of the listener through the lens of our current web-driven culture.

As the album progresses at the pace our brains have been unintentionally trained to move, it becomes apparent that Because the Internet is much more than Glover’s story – it’s all of ours. The album transitions from Glover’s own insecurities and blemishes to the conclusion that all of us are hampered with social flaws that are a direct result of a craving for connection that is never completely satiated by our online relationships. At the end of “Earth: The Oldest Computer”, Glover states the harsh truth many of us have reluctantly accepted, that “to be alone is alive”.

Because the Internet is surely a brilliantly crafted snapshot of our culture, yet it is also an extremely worthy work of art in its own right, and the best Childish Gambino release by a fairly large margin. Anyone who was concerned that Glover might take a turn for the predictable with last year’s Royalty mixtape can rest assured that he has an arsenal of creative ideas to keep us all on our toes. Because the Internet is a thoughtful and painstakingly constructed commentary on our internet culture that doubles as a portrait of Glover’s own struggles and self-awareness. It excels on every level and has solidified Childish Gambino as a creative force in the hip hop community.


by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.