Tag Archives: Awaken My Love

Where did this Donald Glover come from?

Where did this Donald Glover come from?

by Dan-O

After he hosted and musical guested on Saturday Night Live an enormous new audience checked into Childish Gambino for the first time unaware of the journey his music has gone on since 2008. Lots of people have heard the name Childish Gambino (aside from Glover and his acting career) and may associate it with music that sucks. “Is that the guy with all the references and the jokes and the self-pity?” Yes and no.

If you are one of the thirty seven million people that hit youtube and marveled at This Is America you may be wondering where this iteration of Childish Gambino came from. Having listened to Gambino since Culdesac I can answer.

In 2014 Gambino went about resolving his central problem: rapping v. singing. He had the technical ability to do well at both but the path to mixing the two wasn’t as clear as it was for Drake or others whose singing style synced up with their flow naturally. The idea was to give both talents an audition. Datpiff would get a mixtape of straight rap with the best beats (you can still find it on datpiff.com) & his follow up would be an R & B ep called Kauai. STN MTN is a fun mixtape with a lot of downloads/streams on datpiff but it ain’t Kauai.

The secret weapon for Glover has been Ludwig Goransson who has produced all of his work (alongside Glover). Their partnership has grown over the years (recently Ludwig did the Black Panther soundtrack) and Kauai was THE turning point.

The seven song ep did not light the charts on fire but confirmed that if Glover was to make music it needed to be grounded in something. He wasn’t going to be able to do what Future or Gucci Mane do and pump out the jams. All the songs on Kauai exist in a place and a moment that Glover uses as the setting. It’s specific to the Hawaiian environment. All throughout the drum sounds and synth have a uniquely tropical bend, and if you are wondering if I am projecting this onto the music just listen to the ocean break and the seagulls sing background on the Beach Picnic Version of V. 3005. In order to get himself in a place where he could create a radio friendly world beating song like Sober he has to have that setting and paint the foreground once it is there. Ludwig understood after Kauai that the setting was his work. That is why Awaken, My Love turned out so well and Camp is still not good.

Please listen to Kauai below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v_ANfBnxeg

 

The strange addendum  to this is I’m not sure why after learning how different his creative process needed to be in order to succeed he decided he had to retire after this next album.  He’s just cracked the code and now has the pull post-Atlanta post-SNL to do exactly whatever he wants. Why stop now?

 

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Song Review-California by Childish Gambino produced by Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson

Song Review-California by Childish Gambino produced by Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson

by Dan-O

Don’t ever take “talented” as a compliment. It is not specific enough to call what you do valuable. Donald Glover spent his whole career fighting this designation. He could have kept putting out projects like Camp full of punch lines and geek culture references, and that album is good enough to get him called talented. It is good enough for people to buy and follow his career.

Talent isn’t craftsmanship, it isn’t approach. His new album Awaken My Love is head and shoulders above anything he’s done before musically (Troy Barnes 4 life). Instead of spitting feverishly with as many inside jokes as can fit he lets the music lead him and he does what the song needs. It is my 7th favorite album of the year (I don’t post lists on this site so you don’t get to know the rest!) because it has a real groove that guides it and doesn’t try to jam too much into the space it provides.

While Stand Tall is the height of its beauty California is such a necessary release (like Forrest Gump on Channel Orange for Frank Ocean). For those fearing that he would allow this album to slide into depression like Because The Internet; California is fearless lovable while telling a tale of absolute failure. Songs like this show that he is loose enough to play and past the initial stage of calibrating his talent level. Gambino has control and isn’t creating music to prove to you he can, instead he is giving you his vision and this time it is great.