Single Review – Childish Gambino – This Is America

The multi-talented Donald Glover returned with the first new material since Awaken, My Love from 2016; an album which saw him tilt his style towards a more vocal based, soulful direction. With his new single ‘This is America’ this only forms a small part of a multi-faceted arrangement taking in elements of Soul, Pop, Rap and switching styles throughout. The lyrics along with the excellent video transcend many issues in a bold fashion, but treats others with subtlety. Glover’s approach ensures you have to take in the harsh truths he details whilst enjoying the music; both are entwined to the point you can’t ignore the content and the musical shifts and changes signpost this brilliantly. Whether it’s mass shootings, the worship of gun culture, the targeting of the African American communities by law enforcement or the general apocalyptic images he paints, the message is the same; This is America. It is a true example of free speech so coveted in America and a work of art beyond it. You can’t ignore it for it’s not just another form of entertainment, it’s a statement.

Owen Riddle

Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love Review 


Donald Glover is a man of many talents. He can write music or television shows, he can rap, sing and make you laugh etc. With all of the various TV and Film projects he’s got on at the moment, it seems like a feat in itself that here we have his third studio album as Childish Gambino with Awaken My Love. There was a relatively short release schedule from first single to album and with December being a rather sparse time for new releases, this album will certainly occupy more attention then it might have done in April or September. Whilst this also makes the spotlight burn just that brighter, with increasingly bored journalists baying for critical blood, it’s not hard to imagine Donald Glover taking it all in his stride before moving on to his next project. 

As for his first single ‘Me and Your Mama’? Our Katie Hayes had a fair bit of wisdom on offer for it… The focus this time is on the dark and atmospheric, yet stunningly beautiful musical arrangement and Glover’s haunting vocals. It feels entirely different to anything we’ve heard from the rapper before, but there are enough familiar elements in there that fans of his usual musical style won’t feel alienated. It feels mature, soulful, bold and brash- yet unrestrained and perhaps even a little unrefined in places. However, in losing some of his trademark silliness and crudeness, Glover may have also lost some of his charm. Gone are the memorable one liners, such as “Too fly- Jeff Goldblum” that we have come to expect from a Childish Gambino track, and while the sound this has been replaced with is undoubtedly incredible, at times it feels like something is missing. Along with the fact that 2 minutes of this 6 minute track are taken up by a meandering, confused intro, this makes for something that doesn’t feel quite as listenable as his previous efforts. ‘Me and Your Mama’ is definitely a track that grows more interesting with every listen, but it’s not necessarily going to be your favourite Childish Gambino track. 

‘Redbone’ delivers coolness and Pop beauty full of luscious and flowering melodies with a buoyant bass line. The track is effortless and yet so dynamic and is topped by Glover’s simply exquisite falsetto which ties everything together. The psych-soul feel and production of the track is enhanced by the wiry, hazy riffs at the close of the track. The fact that so many different comparisons have been drawn to the track from a plethora of different styles shows the versatility of this track. ‘Have Some Love’ lets loose a rumbling piece of Funk with Soulful injections that included Glover delivering frantic and strained falsettos to balanace off against the low lying bass lines and smooth instrumentals on the whole. There is a lot going on at times and the song loses it’s brilliant flow at times, but to hear his scream from amongst the musical crowd is a highlight that makes it worthwhile.

‘Boogieman’ is a theatrical track enthused with a tearing electricity from the shredding guitars and bold vocal harmonies which drive the song here and Glover is often responding to them in the track as opposed to leading them. A clever move to create another energetic experience. ‘Zombies’ does the same job with a Wings-Esque meandering riff with the basic back beat behind it and the piano chords cascading from it. From there, are shots of deep, reverberating electronica and the piano chords warp at the fringes and when locked together with Glovers smooth delivery, it makes for a well thought out track that you wished had a never ending outro. Some of the closing tracks don’t work in this captivating manner and often reach destinations that are seemingly only in Donald’s head and after being given such joyous experiences earlier on, you have to settle for flashes of brilliance within a confusing myriad of songs. Nevertheless, the album is a great one and undoubtedly his best. He puts his own take on Funk, Soul and Pop and the result is eccentric and infectious. The album on the whole doesn’t quite deliver on the potential suggested by the first two singles, but most of the album tracks required another listen before making sense and when they do, they are wondrous pieces of music. It has weak links where perhaps we get lost in Glover’s musical ambition, but its definitely worth taking the time to breathe in the whole album. 

Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle & Katie Hayes 

Single Review – Childish Gambino – Redbone

Donald Glover is releasing new music weekly as he unveils the lead tracks from his upcoming third studio album Awaken My Love which is due for release on December 2nd. His new single ‘Redbone’ delivers coolness and Pop beauty full of luscious and flowering melodies with a buoyant bass line. The track is effortless and yet so dynamic and is topped by Glover’s simply exquisite falsetto which ties everything together. The psych-soul feel and production of the track is enhanced by the wiry, hazy riffs at the close of the track. The fact that so many different comparisons have been drawn to the track from a plethora of different styles shows the versatility of this track and what we can expect from his upcoming album. It looks set to spring a late surprise at the end of the year. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Childish Gambino – Me and Your Mama

2016 has been a busy year for Donald Glover, otherwise known as Childish Gambino, with the airing of his new (outstanding) TV series, ‘Atlanta’, the news of his role in the upcoming Star Wars film, and now the announcement of his new album ‘Awaken, My Love!’, set for release on December 2nd. With this announcement comes the arrival of new single ‘Me and Your Mama’, offering an incredibly exciting taste of what’s to come.

Glover has switched up his usual style of rap-centered hip-hop that makes up the majority of his last album ‘Because the Internet’, dropping the heavy focus on his clever wordplay and tongue in cheek witticisms and moving into an altogether more refined, grown-up territory. The focus this time is on the dark and atmospheric, yet stunningly beautiful musical arrangement and Glover’s haunting vocals. It feels entirely different to anything we’ve heard from the rapper before, but there are enough familiar elements in there that fans of his usual musical style won’t feel alienated. It feels mature, soulful, bold and brash- yet unrestrained and perhaps even a little unrefined in places.

However, in losing some of his trademark silliness and crudeness, Glover may have also lost some of his charm. Gone are the memorable one liners, such as “Too fly- Jeff Goldblum” that we have come to expect from a Childish Gambino track, and while the sound this has been replaced with is undoubtedly incredible, at times it feels like something is missing. Along with the fact that 2 minutes of this 6 minute track are taken up by a meandering, confused intro, this makes for something that doesn’t feel quite as listenable as his previous efforts.

‘Me and Your Mama’ is absolutely a must-listen, and it’s also definitely a track that grows more interesting with every listen, but it’s not necessarily going to be your favourite Childish Gambino track.

Katie Hayes