Donald Glover has had one of the most impressive multimedia blitzes I have ever seen throughout the last five months. With the runaway, critical success of Atlanta, landing the role of young Lando Calrissian in the forthcoming Han Solo film, and, now, slowly trickling out new music from his forthcoming Childish Gambino record, Glover is handily one of our best entertainers. I was reminded of this again today, when he dropped a brand new song, “Redbone,” from his new album Awaken My Love, which will drop on December 2.
The fact that he is now rolling his album out “conventionally” (I guess ignoring the concert he held in the desert earlier this year) speaks volumes here, especially with the de rigueur practice of event albums, surprise albums, massive music video rollouts, and other hit-or-miss gimmickry. Instead of putting a bunch of effort into overt marketing, Glover has consistently let his art speak for itself without trying to convince or trick you into interfacing with it. That is a feat in 2016 and easily the most compelling thing about Glover’s M.O. as an entertainer. Since he defies traditional media roles and expectations, all he has to do is the work.
“Redbone” is the second track we’ve heard from the new Gambino record, and I think it is now safe to say that we are going to be getting a spectral funk/soul album as Glover’s third official entry into his discography. We are now a plant away from the cheesy, rapped punch lines of Camp as Glover has found his confidence as a singer, something originally explored on his 2014 EP STN/MTN Kuaui. The track is a really flexible R&B number that is equally indebted to George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Sly And The Family Stone, Funkadelic, Erykah Badu, Zapp & Roger and countless other black artists that have imaginative ideas about the future. At the heart of this Gambino track is an imperative that feels crucially relevant to those who are currently discourage, or worse, scared: “Now stay woke!” We’ll try our best.
What do you guys think about this new Childish Gambino track? Are you going to listen to this album right when it comes out on Dec. 2? I definitely am.
Image: FX Networks
Matt Grosinger is the music editor of Nerdist; you might get him to respond to you on Twitter if you try.