Childish Gambino (given name: Donald Glover) has my heart for so many reasons. And I don’t mean romantically.

He has been operating on his own terms professionally for as far back as I can remember. A perfect example of this? When, in his early twenties, he left the writing staff of the wildly successful “30 Rock” to pursue other projects – much to his parents’ chagrin. This pattern – if you can call it that – has continued. From 30 Rock, to Community, to rapping as Childish Gambino, to Magic Mike XXL, to Atlanta (his brainchild, which he also happens to write, direct, and star in). Each venture is more unpredictable than the last.

And now, his most recent – and much anticipated – Gambino album, Awaken, My Love! is out for us to devour (released Dec. 2). But, guess what? Though he isn’t shedding the persona, he has moved into a completely different genre of music – but, we shouldn’t be that surprised…right?

I was certainly surprised. In fact, I was thrilled when I heard just a couple of weeks before that he would be releasing new music! Donald Glover has kept audiences on their toes since day 1. Heck, he even told media that he may never rap as Childish Gambino again. And, maybe he won’t. But this experimental, genre-bending album he dropped last Friday…it’s all I ever needed that I never event knew I wanted!!

Midday last Friday, I hit DOWNLOAD on Google Play, drew a bath, and lit some candles. The minute I hit PLAY, my ears delighted in smooth vocals, soulful instrumentals, and a relaxing – yet, somehow funky – listening experience. This was a total departure from past Gambino, but maybe not from the REAL Donald Glover.

Pop/funk, bass-full, with a 70s feel…much of it reminiscent of THE Prince! I was a little off-put by the very experimental vocals and repetitiveness of the track, “California,” but the rest of the album totally made up for that. Especially “Zombies,” and my absolute favorite, “Redbone.”

Awaken, My Love! is perfect for dancing the night away at a disco, as background music for creative work, the soundtrack to a hot tub session, or maybe even a retro-style swinger’s party (if that’s how you choose to roll). This may be different from anything else he has ever done. But believe you me: It has the same soul and lyrical prowess you would expect from The Gambino. If you loved him before, you will continue to love him.

And if you didn’t? Well, it’s time you hopped on this bandwagon with the rest of us.

**Originally published to Impose.


Keep up with Donald Glover here.

Erin P.S. Zimmerman