TuneDig is an in-depth and informed conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music — one album at a time.

In each episode, we go down the rabbit hole to spend a while in the strange world we discover. We take an honest look at creativity in all its complexity—from writing and production to history and cultural impact.

We promise you’ll learn something new every time, no matter how much you already love the album we explore.

Episode 006

Awaken, My Love!

Childish Gambino

Consider this our RT of FX’s John Landgraf, who warned the world to “underestimate Donald Glover at your own peril.” This episode finds us talking a little about Gambino’s afro-futurist awakening on “Awaken” as a vehicle to talk a lot about Glover’s many punk rock masterstrokes.


Episode 006: Childish Gambino's "Awaken, My Love!": Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Episode 006: Childish Gambino's "Awaken, My Love!": this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

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Today we're talking about Childish Gambino's "Awaken My Love".

Let's start by talking about what makes this episode different. It is the only episode that we have chosen to rerecord. We had this episode in the can and then this is America came out. Just live in. Just live in

What we've been and we looked at each other and said we should probably acknowledge this thing that has captured the Zeit Geist and the literally everybody's talking about I think it's up to like 300 million views on YouTube now just something completely absurd and season two of Atlanta just wrapped solo came out. Donald Glover is pretty inarguably one of the biggest stars in America right now but also one of the most challenging.

So put a new layer on top of this thing that came out close to two years ago now and was released right after the political landscape shifted. It was recorded right before it shifted and a lot of the themes of this album have been amplified in the times since it came out so it seemed important to to revisit the original conversation.

Yeah. This whole album changed for me not only after hearing and seeing this is America but also hearing more from Donald Glover about the kind of whole narrative arc of the childish gambino thing like something we didn't know when we recorded this previously was that there's only going to be one more childish gambino album. That's true. So I think that takes some of the ways that I had listened to this record before and maybe hypothesized an idea of where it fits into a narrative arc and more cements them and gives us a little bit more to go on. And I think at least in my experience helps me understand this album a lot more. And I feel more comfortable leaning into some of the ways that I took it initially at least in terms of it being a very intentional transition.

Sure. And I think it also merits bringing up or acknowledging that there is a message in this record for people who look like us and have our identities. But there's also a layer beyond that. Like it was made for us to hear. But it also was not for us.

So before we get into it I think that that merits saying yeah I think that's good to point out because this record in particular is very intertwined with Atlanta not just because of Donald Glover's history here but because we found out that he was recording this album at the same time and in the same place that he was writing Season 2 of Atlanta.

Yeah. Dude save some of the creativity for the rest of us please for the love of God.

I think that's a theme we're gonna have to keep talking about. I think we're discovering more and more as he goes along that somehow he's able to do almost anything he sets his mind to you. And I think that that's a theme of this album as well. But he's really well aware of the fact that he can attempt to do things he hasn't done before and get very good at them very quickly. Some of his interviews are kind of amazing.

There's a quote I pulled out. He says people accept me now because I have power but they still think oh he's the golden flower of the black community. He just thinks he's so different. He laughs and then he says but I am though I feel like Jesus. I do feel chosen. My struggle is to use my humanity to create a classic work but I don't know if humanity is worth it or if we're going to make it. I don't know if there's much time left.

One of the things that makes Donald so interesting is that almost sacred profound ness to him. He's a he's a true artist. And you know we started the season by talking about outcasts and we attributed some of the same characteristics to Andre.

And I remember when this record came out I tweeted that this album picked up where three sacks left off.

And being married to an artist who I had to learn her style and her way of like lens of viewing the world it's like there's a there's a sensitivity there's just a different ness in the way that they experience everything. And you can tell by the way that he outputs things that he's experiencing that he also takes them in really differently. Like you can tell that he's constantly absorbing and I think a lot of that comes out in his character in Atlanta where he just kind of sits back and is absorbing thousands of signals all at once. He's just a strange profound dude who almost seems like he was put here to put up a mirror to all of us. He he's kind of like an art LeBron James in that way where he's just constantly doing what he does best.

And I think that's a meta narrative that I can't get away from when I think about this album and so when to go and point out to I think strangely the music itself is maybe a little bit less important than what this album was supposed to do.

I agree the music is extremely good. Yeah.

And it's almost as important. But I think I think he was doing something here and I can't escape the I'm gonna say a hypothesis of the way that he's evolved. Comedians musicians anyone else any form of artistry there's always a hidden amount of practice and iteration that happens behind the scene we only see the outcome when it blows up. And it's always shocking for us to go back after we see something artistically great and know that they did a bunch of stuff that maybe wasn't that great to start with. But that's always required to get to where you're going. The myth of the magical genius who comes out with something creative on his first take is insane right. We have almost no instances of that. I think that there's a thread throughout Donald Glover the person's career that awaken my love is a microcosm of and that's that he became a master of Trojan horse thing of priming people for what he wanted to do next because he was already thinking about what he wanted to do next. And so what he's doing now is about preparing people to accept what it is that he wants to do. Then we watch him talk about first how he got to where he could write Atlanta which I think again we have to kind of bring this show up because it's intertwined with this record. But it also highlights some of the things that I think he was doing on this record.

Well and it's also fair game because Donald talks about himself not as a multi hyphen either whatever other people call them. He talks about worldbuilding you know he wants to get you inside a headspace and he just wants to be everywhere you are and kind of attack you from all sides with the art. So I think you kind of have to take it all as a whole to be able to understand any piece of it.

Exactly. So I think we can talk more about the way that this record does that. But I think some other examples that might help set the stage and show an analog he has said and it's it's fairly obvious this is a pretty unconventional show to have ended up on television much less to be a top show read really long form interview with him as well or kind of the next pose I guess. And he talked about how he knew that to get this show on television he was going to have to pretend to be doing something different with this show than he actually wanted to do eventually.

And so he pitches it a lot like oh it's just a rapper and his friend and then their buddy who's funny. And so there's an antihero a funny guy and then paper boy who's gonna kind of like move the narrative along and bring in the music part of it and it'll just be three dudes kind of hanging out and having a good time in Atlanta. We'll have some pop culture references it will occasionally be serious and we'll kind of go that route.

And I remember reading the announcement that that was going to happen when that was like the whole of what we knew. But that was when Donald Glover was a known as a New York guy. He was fresh off a community and he just left community and we knew him as the guy from like the silly Lil Wayne punchline rap that he did because he found this name from a Wu Tang name generator. And he had the weirdo stand up. And I'd seen his standup live and was very safe. And when I found out that he was helming a show called Atlanta it was like I had no idea he was from Stone Mountain. Like that wasn't publicized information at that point and was like we can't entrust him with this. I was. I remember being angry when I read about that.

Yeah there's a whole rabbit hole there about his really intense childhood in Stone Mountain.

Grew up a Jehovah's Witness the cab School of the arts. Like a lot of really weird layers to his young life and his parents had a lot of foster kids. So we had a very unconventional childhood to say the least and was cut off from media so that he's so prolific in the media and art making world is crazy because he used to like sneak Simpsons episodes and watch them after his parents went to bed. Yeah he's a he's an interesting multifaceted layer.

He's a complicated dude talking about the Simpsons is a great segue way to talking about one perspective. You can take on listening to awaken my love and hearing it differently. Donald Glover wanted as a kid to write for The Simpsons. He got started as a writer. Instead of listening to this album which I think a lot of people did as a hip hop guy who was never quite as good trying to make a funk album and instead backing up and saying no actually at his core he seems to be best at writing. He's extremely artistic and multi faceted and so it doesn't make as much sense for you to try to apply the. We're gonna take an M.S. or a hip hop artist and have them create a funk album and this doesn't always make sense to me. Whereas I think songs like California but think Oh. Oh do you. Mind When You back up and you hear from the perspective of what about the types of people who write for television shows and act on television or in theater or in movies.

Those people have the ability to act out and over emphasize so many different things because they're trying to convey so many different thoughts or feelings in their whole thing is about being able to move between these emotions and convey them even when they don't feel them. And so to hear again a song like California which feels overdone Of course it's overdone. You have essentially a theater major trying to make a black funk album which we should talk about some more. But of course this is going to come out sideways from time to time of course it's going to feel overdone because this is not the same as a hip hop artist who spends time and energy trying to look like they're not trying. He's not invested in looking like he's not trying. He's clearly trying he's doing everything well. He was writing Atlanta this record working on the Lion King and doing something else all at the same time. This is not a person that we traditionally cover when we're talking about music.

He's not easy breezy. There have been multiple interviews where they talk about like his anxiety and he like runs late. He ran late for his meeting with Billy Dee Williams to talk about Lando and he was running late and frazzled and so yeah that was the other thing with Star Wars The effort is sort of his thing again. He's he's deceptively cool now that he's kind of achieved his final form and he can walk around and loafers with no socks and he has commanded the respect that he's so clearly deserves all the manic energy was like him climbing the mountain to get to that point it was like I know I'm great. I also remember his brother Steven who's a key part of all of this worldbuilding really interesting that like he brought his family along for the ride. Steven's another super talented writer and creative and also M.S. in his own right.

He mentioned that Donald would just go off and be missing for like hours and days at a time and he would come back and he'd be like I made this thing. So he's kind of always been manic in that way. But it's interesting that you say that about him being a theater major or or whatever because it's it's like he's exploring the headspace of a thing and critiquing it at the same time. You know I think when you look at this is America there's such a myriad and a breadth of interpretations and the amount of people that made reaction videos and critiques to that is just staggering in that there are multiple very different interpretations that all feel like they could be right and all of them are also at least partly wrong.

And also that none of that really matters speaks to Donald's talent as a theater major and a writer.

So we'll just come clean with my hypothesis I guess. OK. Awaken my love is an intentional warm up for this is America and the space that that future album is going to occupy.

And I think he made that space on purpose so I will say they were recorded at the same time and this is America apparently is not going to appear on whatever the next record is which will be the last.

Childish Gambino record according to him.

Okay so go on so let's step back and talk. We can talk specifically about the music now but I want us to keep in mind the role that music plays in especially.

We're gonna have to touch on some things that we as a couple of white dudes may not fully understand but we have studied appreciate and try to listen to and I think a major thread of this record is jumping into the stream that was funk music at the time that it was being made leaning into Funkadelic is not just borrowing stylistically. I think he's trying to plug into a Zeit Geist that makes room for the seriousness of something like this is America. It's easy for us now to look back at funk and especially if we look at it from a purely musical sense and just see a style of music that evolved out of disco that was pre hip hop and that just kind of fit there and we see you know George Clinton and all his purple and green and we think of it as fun

But funk is not just inherently fun complex that's a great review to read the whole of it is basically why does this do you think he can make a serious funk record. He never winks there's never a point at which he says and I'm taking this lightheartedly complex basically criticizes it and says essentially we should have categorized this more under the Bruno Mars calling of funk. And I think the more and more that we get away from this album being released the more we see that he never wanted this album to be a lighthearted take on a musical style.

Right. He was just using a language that he knew and had grown up with because his dad loved this record and introduced him to this record and it was a vocabulary that made sense to comment on things that were happening.

Yeah. And when we say this record a lot of what we're talking about is Maggot Brain right. And that's a thread that's not going to get away from us

I think it is worth saying out loud that we're like learning and exploring these things as we go along and get older. But we live in the cradle of civil rights and we're born and raised here. So like it's it's really important for us. We talked about this a lot. Not with microphones in our faces about how it's important for us to like the part about conversation and be allies to that conversation. So yeah.

And that's why I think it's important both of us are going off of the plethora of interviews and quotes that came out of this. Not necessarily trying to to impose any viewpoint on it. And the purpose of my hypothesis about what this album is about is more just me trying to put together what I'm hearing from him any way he is trying to learn some. Yeah. So in exactly the same way that you know he had to be Troy on community before he could be earned in Atlanta. I think awake my love had to exist before. This is America and whatever is coming next could be a part of the culture because if you imagine this album not existing and instead imagine this is America coming out right after because the Internet.

Exactly right. So. OK. So we're on an audio podcast. Kyle's eyebrows just shot through his four head like if you imagine it that way. What's the hot take then. OWEN WILSON Wow in theory but in a hot take culture which Donald Glover is really aware of.

That's what because the internet was about.

And so if you go from that to something is deeply artistic but also enlightening as this is America what you're gonna get is a bunch of hot takes of people going.

Who does he think he is.

No no. She wasn't ready. She was a second Kevin Hart reference of the day first went on the record.

The hypothesis is only that this was partially intentional.

But sometimes as we've talked about before on other episodes there are narratives that occur just because you're immersed in the music itself and what you're trying to do and sometimes those narratives come out later and he didn't mean for them to you. He chose to immerse himself in the culture of funk music enough to make a funk record. And you mentioned that there was you know there was a connection with his dad and he talked about how he listened with his dad to Funkadelic and other bands like that which is also weird because it's like how you're not gonna let your kids watch The Simpsons but you're going to let him listen to a song like hitting.

Quit it. That strikes me as really funny.

And I wonder if it's because funk was always really good at Trojan horse thing. You take the edge off the delivery. Yeah. Turns out what you're listening to you is actually something that subverts the way that you've thought about culture.

He did call this a punk record.

He said in interviews he talked about this album as being an exercise in feeling and tone. There's a lot to unpack there. Instead of looking at this record as something that should have been filed in the Bruno Mars column I think this is much more in the D'Angelo and Kendrick column but not with the same execution. So for Childish Gambino to come out of seemingly nowhere with a full commitment to this funk felt weird but I think I think it's important to understand what funk meant in that time period that it comes from. So I think one quote that helps is true funk was protest as much as it was a party.

It was high out of its mind but it was aware of its political surroundings. It pushed the envelope sonically and it pushed buttons socially. It was infatuated with technology and terrified by it at the same time. It was wild clothes and wild ideas. It makes two major and minor chords in a beaker and it let them boil over. It was the civil rights movement and Vietnam.

I remember reading when the album first came out one of the better think pieces and I couldn't find it when we were prepping for this wove the through line of Afro futurism through all this.

And I think what you've been getting at is that ideas like Afro futurism. Was this pro black art form that went across everything from music to film to even comic books like Black Panther and you know Black Panther the film being released sort of around the same time being scored by Ludwig Donald's kind of music guy is really super interesting. But the connection between artists like George Clinton and Donald Glover and three sacks and Big Boi and Janelle Monet even is envisioning a positive world taking the dystopian reality that exists for black people in America and flipping them on its head and envisioning a world where all of the beauty that they've been able to make from all of the pain is is the thing that's focused on and the pain sort of goes away.

So when you talk about Donald Glover's world building I think it's inextricably linked to this idea of building a world that that black people can actually live in the kind of world that they're trying to celebrate as a reality and not a fantasy.

Yeah. And as opposed to diluting black culture so that other people can be more accepting of it. I think Donald Glover's become good at saying instead of going that route we're gonna trick them right.

And I'm all for it which is even cooler and more punk than a line in the sand making you think that you're safe like you gotta respect that. He probably did have enough forethought to play the long game and be like we'll do this for a couple of years but as soon as I can as soon as I have them launched into thinking I'm safe for Midwestern suburban flyover country consumption I'm gonna hit him with something like this is America which is so rad and it's going to work.

So going to work you know I think I think there's something to it. I think that that more even more people than his childish gambino too are reaching into the depths of black culture to pull something out that's socially applicable now. I think an analog to that would be a chance the rappers coloring book. I feel that he reaches into gospel music the same way that Childish Gambino is reaching into funk here.

It seems like scenes he fall in my lap. It seems like

I don't make songs for free. I may go for freedom. Don't believe in gangs. Believe in me and to St. prayer with me.

I took my younger brother to a chance the rapper concert at Lakewood which is like a 20 thousand capacity amphitheater sold out show and it was like being at a megachurch for kids that haven't grown up in church and I just couldn't believe. Yeah. The Trojan Horse ness of it that these kids were like singing worship music but it wasn't that like they were just praising being alive and being around each other. And it was these like 16 17 18 year old kids that were super diverse all very different. I mean you look down a row of 30 people and no five of them look the same. Yeah. He's another person in that ecosystem and a person who's connected to Donald Glover because Donald Glover invested in him early and kind of helped give him his start and amplified his career.

So it's cool that on top of all of these things all the people you're mentioning are are not competitive they're supportive of one another and and they're building a world where all of these people can exist in this big constellation of people making great art beautiful when I think of some of the opinions about this record.

And I can agree with this part of it. There are times where the attempt to create a funk I heard comes out really cheesy and again with the benefit of hindsight and seeing possibly where he was thinking of going with it and thinking about it as an intentional step in a path makes a lot more sense to me.

This was an exercise in immersing himself in a Zeit Geist. That was what we described earlier when it comes to funk. It's it's the civil rights movement and Vietnam as much as it is a party right. And so if you're going to immerse yourself in it you're going to actually try to do a funk record and commit to it. There are gonna be slip ups Sure. And on top of it from someone who's obviously good at acting you're gonna have some moments of over animation. I think thinking about it that way has given me a really really broad appreciation for it and has caused me to even like the moments that are cheesy more than I did before. They're not bothers them anymore. I see them as more of an exercise.

And what's even better is that he's never gonna revisit it. Like yeah I can say that with confidence. Yeah he tried it. It was excellent. Imperfect but excellent. And he'll probably never do it again. He has so many interesting reference points though as an artist and you don't catch a lot of it if you aren't like trying to keep up with him because he'll do stuff and then toss it away. So there was sort of that period when he was on tour for because the Internet before this record came out where he was flexing more of those arm B chops like I think. Working his way towards something like this. Like he covered to Mia. He covered PMD on the song from the Boomerang soundtrack like that's a specific thing. You you might even imagine. Just that really interesting smart strange R and B that a lot of it kind of came and went and flew under the radar for the mainstream.

You made the point a couple of times about the actor writer Linds for him and I think that's lent itself to one thing that he's done unquestionably really well and that's the rollouts like the presentation of things he's hyper aware of those and he's stuck the landing every single time with because the Internet and the short film and rolling out the screenplay and just the immersion into that world and that headspace with this is America making sure that it went up at the exact same time he was hosting SNL and debuting the two new songs.

That was a total expert move in very primarily as a video.

Right. That being the only thing on his social media accounts and just being like well I'm about to go on the air here's this thing. And in the group text I have with my brothers my youngest brother was like Oh my God Donald in all caps. And I was like What. How are you already watching SNL. And it was this whole other thing. So I thought that was brilliant. But specifically with awaken my love. He debuted it at the Institute of Mental physics under a geo dome projecting the album and A.R. elements into the ceiling.

And it was like African global Afro futurist beautiful imagery but also crazy technology in the middle of a desert and he called it pharaohs. Yeah we have to tell the story he called it pharaohs made you download an app with a countdown.

It was the only tweet on his very popular Twitter account. Faris dot Earth dot. We just apparently. Yeah.

So is that the Institute of Mental physics and Joshua Tree a very spiritual feeling place and that the Institute of Mental physics has this crazy spiritual history as do many places in and around that part of the desert and Pharaoh scorched earth had this crazy like manifesto on it that came out of nowhere sort of out of nowhere because because the Internet taught us that Donald could be really weird and challenging. But he called it a shared vibration for human progress.

He's one of the most popular pop culture figures in the world and he's talking about things like a shared vibration for human progress and a rational progressive and spiritually fulfilling global pantheism can be reached without disregard for a process of change evolution. And that's sort of like that's one sentence about who Donald Glover is and how he thinks. But that was really interesting and nobody knew anything about it. And he was I think the only or one of the very few artists performing it was four nights and he did a big sprawling set every night. And I think people thought they were going to get one thing or maybe had no idea what they were going to get. And then they got this they got this funk shit like what.

And that's how it also went when he casually dropped the single. Not long after that. Me and your mama

My brother pulled up in my driveway and my brother pretty much mostly listens to rap music like specifically Atlanta trap music and pulled up listening to this song and it's all it's like the sparkly part at the beginning of me and your mama. And then it launches into this thing and my brother is also a big bill withers fan and so I thought he had discovered this Funkadelic adjacent thing from the 70s and somehow it magically went up me after never listening to any of this kind of music. And I was like Oh my God who is this. He was like this and your child is Gambino.

I was like No seriously what is this. And he was like he pulled out his phone and he showed me the album artwork and I was like I gotta go. And went inside and listened to the song as loud as I could. Like 10 times in a row because it was such a body shock even after because the Internet which was really different from everything that came before it. And that was a body shock. This was an order of magnitude bigger than that where you're like this is so different.

I need a minute. You know the fact that he feels like he can do whatever he wants and that he can succeed at it applies to just the same to you. If he feels like he needs to try to affect or contribute to cultural change if he decides to do that he's going to feel like he can do it too.

I do remember reading something he said and I couldn't find the interview but he learned about some of the experiences that his brother Steven had.

And it was very vague. So you're like was it stuff related to his career was it run ins with the police. What was it he's like. I decided that I had to be more radically black and that was one of the things that flipped the switch where it almost became like like a punk ethos like this is the thing that I got to do and I have the platform and I'm gonna be real low key with it but I know what the game plan is.

Now like he he had a purpose that was excavated with personal happenings and with societal happenings as well in throwback to our first episode on stage Konya that the image that we talked about of Andre 3000 writing the lyrics to gasoline dreams on a wall inside of his house somehow feels really similar to this feeling of childish gambino can take what's been built so far and can apply this punk aesthetic to it and give it raw emotion. It doesn't have to be like punk music was it's that feeling inside guys to be able to push through and do something societally different something countercultural. But finding a way to slip into the larger culture and expose people to something they wouldn't have invited into their lives to begin with.

I also think the way that Atlanta got written and this record got produced contribute exactly to that. You know you mentioned Dre being in that house.

They had a house maybe still have a house in the Hollywood Hills that was described as more like a salon than a writer's room. So Donald got a fax to sign the deal signed an all black writers room for F for Atlanta and treated it more like a place where they would have conversations that was spin out into things rather than being like how are we going to attack episode 3 or what are we going to do with this song. It was more like let's start with an idea let's start with a conversation and let's spin it out into an expression or a piece of art. So it was like a core of energy like a very classic True artists summit that grew into this whole body of work that happened really prolifically and was rolled out on a really beautiful way. What's your favorite song on this album.

So we've talked about this. I like Stand Tall specifically because of the way that it ends

He does this whole interesting immersive authentic funk thing that catches everyone off guard and then the very last song on the album sounds like the recording like cut off like they ran out of tape or like your phone just died or something weird and I was trying to describe it to you. And then we put it on and then it caught you off guard to you when it just abruptly weird. And I never.

I feel like I zone out before that part of the record and most of the time he front load you with a lot of stuff on the record and then it gets sort of almost ambient toward the end and then it just cuts off which leaves you with an uneasy feeling and you can do the thing that Donald Glover is so good at making people do which is you know you can interpret it and assign any sort of narrative to it that makes sense. You know I love the interview where somebody is like do you you know do you care to comment on

All of the people making reaction videos and do you do you care to provide your own definitive interpretation that this is America. He just goes No.

But there's so much we haven't even spent a lot of time on the music itself and you know that goes back to what we said originally.

Like the music itself as sort of a secondary thing to the statement in the world that's been built around the thing. Yeah but even with that said I think it's worth it to cut a few

Reactions or thoughts about some of these songs anyway at least. Oh hell yeah. Lady song you know we've definitely discussed the album as a whole the feeling of it maybe what it was doing intentionally or unintentionally and all that stuff is great. But I mean there's there's a lot to dig into here because there's he does so much nodding to other artists on this song that it's practically headbanging. It goes so deep I can read out a list of interesting ones to you. But like I remember one of the first ones that I felt actually smart because I latched onto you without having to you know read and exposed about it in the New Yorker or something was me and your mama where he talks about it not just be a puppy love. Not about Ms Jackson and the fact that they talk about puppy love in it. Because I was. Naturally I'm already on the thread of somehow this is picking up on what outcasts was doing for a time and coming again out of Atlanta. Coming from the place where funk and hip hop were infused together again 30 years after its genesis or more and just to give a little bit more flavor we're going to take this from an actual super smart music guy a musicologist. There's this amazing paragraph about all the different places where he does nod in a way that's clear to people who have studied funk which I will admit as much as we've talked about it so far I am in no way a student of that musical genre in a way that we've been experts. We didn't grow up with it but this one says you know there are hallmarks from funk peak throughout this entire album on zombies. Donald Glover is harnessing Rick James vocals from Mary Jane. On Red Bone. He's reincarnated the unmistakable bass from Bootsy Collins is I'd rather be with you. I. Just. Said

A song so good. And the first time that I heard that song I was like Well this is clearly that Bootsy song but it's also not.

And then. And then I'll stand tall the one that we were talking about subtle hints of shaggy Otis the strawberry letter 23 Oh totally

You know every song on this record is so different. And the one I find myself coming back to the most is riot. The first line of the song is like I got this feeling in my body and it's just so dancey and it it launches right and he has songs that really build. He has songs that like the last two or three on the record don't really go anywhere they don't move. They're just an atmosphere which is a super interesting thing to spend 15 or 20 minutes an album doing. But Riot is where it sort of crass in the middle of the album and I think it's right before Red Bone. It's like the roller coaster and then you go get on like the little boat ride with red mountain a little bit. But I love riot because it's so dancey and has so much spirit and fervor. I wish it wasn't so short.

Yeah but it's sort of like The Misfits to me in that way. I remember reading this interview with Josh Hayami who's been my musical lens on everything for the past like 15 years in my life talking about his favorite music and he talked specifically about the song she by the Misfits which was like a little over a minute long and he's like that song is the greatest chorus of all time. And it's because they only do it once. Where do you even like. How do you stop having a conversation about this record or about Donald Glover and all of his art. Because there's so much of it and it's so good. Let's have let's find a period.

Lena DUNHAM It said at least 20 people have told me. I would like to make something like Atlanta and I would say Oh you mean a show that toggles between painful drama and super surrealist David Lynch moments to take on race in America. That's not a genre that's Donald Glover We could say the same thing about this record. It's not a genre it's Donald Glover.

Yeah that's that's the best way to punctuate this. Thank you Donald Glover. Thank you for being from Atlanta and thank you for whatever comes next.

Go to TuneDig.com to sign up for our emails and click the link in the email when you want to win. That's it.

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We’ve curated an entire year’s worth of albums to spin, one for every single day.

If you’ve listened to TuneDig, you already know these 366 picks span history, genres, and cultures. Each day presents an album that’s fundamentally different than the one that came before it, and the one that comes after.

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎

TuneDig Episode 53: Ravi Shankar’s “Three Ragas”

Ravi Shankar lived one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary lives, bearing witness to—and making—history all around the world. To many (especially in the West), he personified an extraordinarily complex style of music and the cultures from which it was borne, and he worked hard to make it look easy.

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TuneDig Episode 52: Alain Goraguer’s “La Planète Sauvage”

Gather ’round, sommeliers of the strange and crate-digging boogie children, for something “Strange! Frightening! Fascinating!” awaits. The soundtrack to Cannes 1973’s Jury Prize-winning film is a dazzling, surreal, avant-garde hymn to cosmic knowledge and compassion and a secret handshake among real heads. If you’re after a trip to a new dimension, here’s your one small step for man.

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TuneDig Episode 51: Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You”

Marvin Gaye’s well of soul power ran mighty deep, and deep into his career, he pulled up a bucket of ice-cold, silky smooth champagne called “I Want You.” Come for the lush instrumentation, vocal harmonies, and Leon Ware clinic; stay for the stories. For our return from hiatus, we observe a titan in his element, reflect on the pain that built him into one, and consider how to reconcile our feelings when complicated messengers deliver beauty to our door.

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TuneDig Episode 50: Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”

Before uniting one nation under a groove, the lysergic lords of chaos in Funkadelic harnessed wild lightning into an amulet called Maggot Brain, bestowing the bearer with raw, dark power stronger than any force known to man. Between reaching our 50th episode and coping with the “maggots in the mind” of today’s universe, it felt like the right time to free our minds. We hope y’all’s asses will follow.

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TuneDig Episode 49: Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda”

The story of Alice Coltrane — an accomplished bebop pianist from Detroit who transcended into something far greater before walking away from public life altogether — is a glimpse into what it means to be truly free. Alice’s masterpiece "Journey in Satchidananda" is a cosmic dance that sparked creation from destruction. And in a time when we’re all desperately searching for a spark of meaning and hope, Journey abides abundantly.

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TuneDig Episode 48: Heart’s “Little Queen”

Take a moment to appreciate Ann and Nancy Wilson, who kicked down the doors of rock ‘n’ roll’s boys’ club with their peerless guitar work, soaring soul vocals, and tight songcraft. 1977’s Little Queen — an oft-overlooked gem in the classic rock canon — offers a snapshot of those elements at their most urgent and pure, powered by the Wilsons’ simple motivation (as described by their producer): “It was a war.”

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TuneDig Episode 47: Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra”

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

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TuneDig Episode 46: Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”

Did you catch one of 2021’s biggest albums, or like us, did you almost overlook it? If you have any expectations of pop music, "SOUR" will likely subvert them. Teenage dream this is not; it’s an exquisitely universal portrait of a weird time to be alive.

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TuneDig Episode 45: Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit”

The story of Fela Kuti — one of the most famous people on an *entire continent* passionately struggling to liberate power to more people — is absolutely one worth deeply knowing, regardless of whether you find yourself drawn to Afrobeat or (cringe) “world music.” But once you know it, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Fela and Afrika 70 as their revolutionary grooves rewire your brain in magical and meaningful ways.

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TuneDig Episode 44: Meshuggah’s “ObZen”

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

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TuneDig Episode 43: mewithoutYou’s “Catch For Us the Foxes”

A misunderstood wise man once said “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.” In our most personal and vulnerable episode yet, we do some seeking through the lens of songs that fill us with the bravery and sincerity to love ourselves and others fully. Dig deep with us as we fish for words about our tiny place in the universe and dance with gratitude for our ability to do so.

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For lifelong headbangers and the musically curious alike, a new podcast from TuneDig is here to push your palette with aggressive, abrasive art. Each short, fast-paced episode offers (1) a new metal, punk, noise, or experimental release we recommend, (2) a related playlist we’ve curated, and (3) a heavy issue to consider and an organization doing something about it. Join us in the void.


TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

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TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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We're Cliff (right) and Kyle (left). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and sustainability, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.