In an alleged “post-racial” America, music continues to be a uniting factor. The influence of music is more powerful than ever, and many artists are taking note and letting their opinions be heard.
Not even two weeks after the most divisive election in American history, Donald Glover released Awaken, My Love, under his longtime pseudonym “Childish Gambino”. In an album where themes of social injustice and racial tensions dominate throughout, Redbone, the lead single off the record, has proved itself to be relevant and important to many aspects of American culture including racism, complacency, and social infidelity. Now, a year after the record’s release, the topics and themes that Glover explores throughout Redbone have remained, and continue to remain relevant in a society that is consistently dominated by racial and domestic tension.
In today’s modern America, racial tensions are at an all-time high, and American urban society is the tensest it has been in decades. And while music has always been a constant escape from the darkness of the real world, for many, it can serve as a lens in which we can greatly analyze the current state of our society. Childish Gambino’s Redbone allows the listener to do just that, as the song portrays a post-racial America that still struggles to come to terms with the fact that racism is still a prevalent modern concept. Social infidelity is another concept that Glover explores thoroughly, not only on Redbone but on the entirety of Awaken, My Love. Throughout his music, Glover consistently shows prowess and social awareness on Redbone, solidifying it as the most socially aware song featured on not only this album but Glover’s entire discography.
Throughout the song, Glover reminds the listener to “stay woke”, a phrase that could define a movement in the sense that Glover is one of the many African-Americans preaching to others, begging for communities to “keep one eye open” when it comes to the unavoidable racial and social injustice that takes place across America each and every day. In addition to that, Glover consistently makes references to cultural and social standards within black communities, as he speaks of “peanut butter chocolate cake with kool-aid”, and how black people are constantly shadowed by stereotypes and cultural oversights. These adages and themes appear throughout Glover’s songs, and on Redbone, the connection between music and social structure springs to life.
It is evident that in a post-racial nation that clearly still struggles with racism, music proves to be a defining factor that can ultimately unite a divided America.
Glover has proven to be a great unifier across America, drawing a crowd of 150,000 at this year’s Governor’s Ball in New York City, as well as using his talents to create an Emmy-award winning television show, Atlanta, that tackles the same topics as his music, while conveying his message to an even broader audience. Glover has shown his incredible work ethic time and time again, and on Redbone, his brilliance shines through a matter of mind-blowing instrumentation, and lyrics that could make even the biggest skeptic open their eyes and awaken themselves to the injustices that take place across America each day.