In the midst of the American post-election frenzy, a different Donald came into the spotlight to give everyone yet another surprise. Ever since releasing his latest EP STN MTN/Kauai in 2014, actor Donald Glover (under his rapper alter Childish Gambino) has been relatively quiet, with sparse announcements or new releases. That all changed on November 17th as Glover debuted his new single “Redbone” from his upcoming album Awaken, My Love!
From the opening beats, it is clear that Glover is experimenting with different sounds from his older albums Because the Internet and Camp, which were largely driven by fast hooks and rap riddled with clever one-liners. In “Redbone” Glover forgoes rapping for singing; he croons in a high-pitched, synth-distorted voice of love gone wrong, laid over a slow, funky instrumental with bells and slapping bass. Glover doesn’t try for lyrical complexity this time, opting instead for sparseness in the vocals. He echoes the hook, “Stay woke!” as the song ends, with the instrumentals building up to a crescendo and close. This single is sure to fascinate old fans of Childish Gambino and new listeners alike – the shift from his characteristic fast and energetic style to a slower, more emotional one raises both curiosity and high expectations for the upcoming album.