There's seemingly a trend happening in hip hop where significant stylistic expression changes are imminent for a given artist to continue to prove that they are a unique force of art. Too many rap and hip hop musicians get lumped together due to stereotypical expectations of how these genres are supposed to make you feel.
One of the most prominent style changes of late happened with Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, which saw the incorporation of popular styles of the past like jazz and funk. The risk paid off as the album went on to sell over a million units within the year, win a slew of Grammy Awards, and open the eyes to many of how acceptable and encouraged it is for rhythm-based artists to expand their songwriting.
Now we have Childish Gambino's “Awaken, My Love!” This album is the next in the lineage to consist of a major divergent style that will get many, many critics talking. Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, outside of his acting career on TV and film is known for being a notable, fearless rapper. The new album, although, is a melting pot of rock, folk, jazz, funk, and everything in between.
A track like "Boogieman" could've serious been a massive hit a few decades ago when the Red Hot Chili Peppers were a funk rock energy not to be tamed. I mean maybe the song will become a hit this year but it no doubt shows the testament of how willing Gambino is to step out of his perceived boundaries. "California," "Baby Boy," and "Riot" each express the talent's capable vocal styles as moments some show off powerful vibrato while others show experimental inflections. On the other hand, songs like the single, "Me And Your Mama," and "Stand Tall" are lengthy 6 minute creations that seriously take you on a trip.
“Awaken, My Love!” is the follow-up to 2013’s full-length Because the Internet and 2014’s EP STN MTN / Kauai, so we've been incredibly eager to see what he'd muster up next. Childish Gambino will next release the new album on virtual reality vinyl at some point next year as well. An ever-growing creative mind is one to be admired.
What did you think of the artistic direction?