Childish Gambino has always been an artist filled with wonder. Before bringing funk and soul vibes to the table with Awaken My Love!, the Grammy winner used screenplays and vivid imagery to bring vigor to his music. This time around, the creative delivered drafts of his new music to fans by way of purchased tickets from his This is America Tour.
While some fans got to hear “Spirits (All Night)” and “Algorythm” earlier this month, the rest heard the songs during his New York performances at Madison Square Garden Friday and Saturday (Sept. 14-15). Dripped in soul, the tracks carry the essence of Gambino’s appreciation for traditional instrumentals and R&B cadences. Both sold-out crowds grooved to the new music the with even more delight than Gambino’s deep cuts like “Have Some Love,” “Worldstar” and his recent chart-topping hit, “This Is America.”
We still have a ways to go when it comes to hearing Childish Gambino’s final album, but here’s what we know so far.
1. His New Tunes Include Words of Wisdom
Gambino opened Friday’s show with one of the new tracks, believed to be named “Algorythm.” As he stood on the pitch black stage in a classic MJ-like stance, a beam of light appeared next to him. “There is no joy in sorrow, no truth you told and the crew among us are tired,” an audio version of the track professes. “Oh, old mother inferiority, why do you go away from me? They say it, although it escapes… are telling me that we got to be that we have to be free.”
“This is America” and “Feels Like Summer” are well-deserved bops that included remnants of existential wonder, so we’re sure there’s plenty to uncover with the new music.
2. “Spirits (All Night)” Features a Classic Zhané Sample
A little later in the show, Gambino took time to thank the fans for their love and support by sharing “some new shit I’m working on.” The song prompted many body-rolls, leaving us to believe “Spirits (All Night)” might be the name of this tune. The chorus features an interpolation of Zhané’s 1993 jam, “Hey Mr. DJ.”
The song, by duo Renee Neufville and Jean Norris-Baylor, was their debut single under Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit collective. The song reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993 and hit Gold status.
3. “Algorithm” Has Plenty of Reliable Gambino Falsettos
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While Gambino has sanng on previous projects, the vocal projection on songs like “Redbone” and “Me and Your Mama” was on another level. The falsettos continue on the new tunes, leaving us with more wonder on what’s to come.
At the time of Awaken’s release, many believed the artist tweaked his vocals in the studio. Speaking with triple j, ‘Bino explained the nahoos were all his own. “Actually there wasn’t a ton of vocal stuff done,” he says. “I think people hear ‘Redbone’ and they’re like ‘Oh he switched all his vocals.’ And like, there was no vocal pitching on the album. I just sang differently… some sounds on it aren’t instruments at all. They’re just my voice, or just clicks on my tongue.”
Longtime collaborator and producer Ludwig Goransson also shared with Billboard how impressed he was with Gambino’s vocal progression. “I heard him sing a lot of stuff I’d never heard him physically been able to sing before,” he said. “We didn’t pitch his voice; that’s all him singing. And a couple songs, like ‘Stand Tall’ for example, that was all one take with his vocals.”
4. Gambino’s New Music May Include Hidden Messages
As stage workers readied the platform for Gambino, a large black curtain featuring PSNR block language covered the stage. PSNR deciphers the peak signal-to-noise ratio between two images. As Math Works explains it, “the higher the PSNR, the better the quality of the compressed, or reconstructed image.”
It might’ve been just a standard code design, but fans are sure to find another meaning behind it.
5. Words and Sounds From The Gospel Will Be Present
“Brothers and sisters we are here to raise, I am delivered.” he sings during the opener. He also professed fans weren’t in the crowd for a concert, but for the church instead. There’s no denying that the hostile gospel might find its way into the new music. Either way, we’re appreciating all the new clues along the way.
See the remaining tour dates below and cop tickets over at Live Nation.
This is America Tour Dates
09/18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
09/19 – Washington, DC @ Capital One Arena
09/22 – Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
09/23 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
09/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum
09/27 – Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena
09/29 – Seattle, WA @ Key Arena
09/30 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena
11/23-25 – Auckland, NZ @ Pharos